Land O’Lakes reports 2011 net earnings

Earnings up in layers, down in feed

Land O’Lakes reported net earnings of $182.2 million in 2011, compared to $178.1 million in 2010, according to the company’s latest annual report. Earnings increased in layers and declined in feed, crop inputs and dairy foods.

Lifestyle feed volume declined 5 percent, although premium, branded products performed well, said the company. An uncertain economy had an industry-wide impact on volumes and product mix, particularly in the key equine segment, where the number of animals being fed was down significantly. Livestock volume, however, increased 13 percent, with double-digit increases in nearly all species and strong performances from premium and proprietary products. Animal milk replacers delivered a 7 percent increase in overall volumes, according to Land O’Lakes numbers.

The company’s egg business, conducted through Moark LLC, saw overall shell egg volume up 6 percent and volume in branded and specialty eggs up 17 percent. The eggs business reported a pretax loss of $3 million in 2011, compared to a $27 million pretax loss in 2010, and continued its growth trajectory in spite of increased input costs.

According to Land O’Lakes, the company will spend 2012 focusing on growth as its driving strategy, concentrating on areas of greatest potential — value-added, branded products and major customers and markets, including those in the international marketplace.