Rusagro’s results in 2020
In 2020, the total farming area of lands under Rusagro’s management by the end of the year amounted to 637 thousand hectares, showing a decrease of 1%, resulting from the disposal of 4 thousand hectares due to the termination of inefficient land lease agreements.
In 2020, the aggregate storage capacity, including four elevators and five grain storage sites, totalled 997 thousand tonnes (+18%)Including leased facilities. By the end of the year, the main fleet of equipment includes 1.6 thousand self-propelled agricultural vehicles and 3.8 thousand trailed implements.
Regional structure of arable lands
The majority of Rusagro’s agricultural lands are located in the Central Black Earth Region of Russia with highly fertile chernozem black soils. The largest arable lands are located in the Belgorod and Tambov Regions – 255 thousand hectares and 139 thousand hectares, respectively, as of end-2020. The Company’s Agriculture Business manages 84 thousand hectares of arable lands in the Primorye Territory.
Legal structure of lands
In accordance with the accepted strategy on establishing control over arable land and reducing lease costs, Rusagro continues to increase the areas owned. So, at the end of 2020, 54.0% of the whole land bank was already in ownership of the Company, with a year-on-year uptick of 0.5 p.p. Another 40% of all areas are under long-term lease and 5.9% – under short-term lease.
In 2020, Rusagro invested RUB 2.0 billion in development and support of the Agriculture Business, staying about flat year on-year (+1%). The bulk of the funds (62%) was directed to business development — to buy out land shares and increase the share of owned lands, as well as to provide material and technical support (facilities and equipment) to new lands. Thirty eight percent of investments were allocated to maintain the existing capacities, mainly to renovate and upgrade machinery and equipment.
In 2020, Rusagro harvested 4.5 million tonnes of crops, down 0.9 million tonnes (-17%) year-on-year. The decrease in this indicator relates to the reduced gross harvest of sugar beet – it dropped by 1.0 million tonnes (-27%) and amounted to 2.9 million tonnes. The yield of oil crops also was on the declining trend (-8%, or -30 thousand tonnes) and amounted to 0.3 million tonnes. The negative growth of these crops was partially offset by an increase in grain harvest to 1.2 million tonnes (+19%, or 190 thousand tonnes) due to the increased wheat yield (+41%, or 293 thousand tonnes).
Rusagro’s area under crops decreased by 8% in 2020 and amounted to 539 thousand hectares, excluding 20 thousand hectares of laylands. However, this decline does not affect the harvest results as much as the yield per hectare. Thus, the area under beet cultivation decreased only by 4% (-4 thousand hectares) because of lower crop profitability due to low sugar prices in early 2020. Grain crops were sown on 244 thousand hectares, which is 3% (-8 thousand hectares) less than in 2019. The area under oil crops shrank the most: the area under sunflower – by 38% (-14 thousand hectares) due to land disposal in the Saratov Region, under soybeans – by 7% (-11 thousand hectares) due to opting for corn. This was a reason of a lower yield of oil crops.
The drop in the gross yield of sugar beet mainly stemmed from unfavourable weather conditions, which led to a 23% decrease in crop yield per hectare in Rusagro’s fields – to a five year record low average of 34.6 tonnes per hectare. At the same time, the average yield per hectare for grain crops experienced a significant rise (+23%), which was bolstered by higher indicators for wheat (+27%) and barley (+34%). Unlike the market average results, Rusagro managed to increase the sunflower yield per hectare by 24% – this was made possible thanks to the correct choice of hybrids and an optimal nutrient status.
Production factors broken down into main crops
In 2020, sales volumes of Rusagro’s Agriculture Business went down by 21% – to 4.3 million tonnes as compared to 2019. Such dynamic pattern is associated with a poorer sugar beet yield and a lower level of carry-overs of grain crops at the end of 2019 (312 thousand tonnes at the end of 2019 against 474 thousand tonnes at the end of 2018) with larger carry-overs at the end of 2020 (484 thousand tonnes). Thus, the sales of grain fell by 27% (-0.3 million tonnes) – to 0.9 million tonnes, and those of sugar beet – by 24% – to 3.0 million tonnes. Only soybean enjoyed a rise in sales; it was sold by 47% (+106 thousand tonnes) more year-on-year due to the large volume of carry-overs from previous years in 2020. Before the imposition of export duties, the Company managed to sell the most of the 2020 crop – by the end of the year, 62% of wheat, 45% of soybeans and 88% of sunflower were sold.
All sugar beet (100%), 37% grains and 3% oil crops — were sold to companies of Rusagro’s Group. In 2020, the exports of the Company’s agricultural crops went down by 5% (-13 thousand tonnes) – to 275 thousand tonnes, which related to a significant decrease in grain supplies (-55%). At the same time, demand from China jumped noticeably; the Company supplied 78 thousand tonnes (+35 thousand tonnes) thereto as of the end of the year, including 35 thousand tonnes of grain and 42 thousand tonnes of soybeans.
In 2020, the selling prices of all crops went up. The sales price of sugar beet showed the most increase: as a result of a lower yield, it doubled – from RUB 1.6 to 3.4 thousand per tonne, exclusive of VAT. Oil crop prices also posted a significant growth (+47%). Thus, the prices for sunflower and soybeans reached record values over the past five years of RUB 30.0 and 28.6 thousand per tonne (+73 and 40%), respectively. Grain crop prices increased by 20% – up to RUB 12.7 thousand per tonne exclusive of VAT mainly due to the development of prices for wheat (+24% – up to RUB 12.9 thousand per tonne). The positive movements of prices for grains and oil crops was promoted by the growing world demand amid a lower harvest of certain crops and the devaluation of the rouble.
Volumes and prices of Rusagro’s sales by main agricultural crops
In 2020, the revenue of Rusagro’s Agriculture Business grew by 33% (+RUB 8.5 billion) despite the decreased sales volume of sugar beets and grain crops. Due to a major increase in prices for the products sold by the Company (excluding prices for barley, which grew by only 1%), this segment hit a record high revenue of RUB 34.3 billion. As the cost of production remained more or less at the 2019 level, the adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 157% (+RUB 9.3 billion) to RUB 15.2 billion with a adj. EBITDA margin of 44% (+21 p.p.).
In 2021, Rusagro’s Agriculture Business plans to look into the possibility of creating a land bank in the Saratov Region and figures on to increase yield per hectare through the consistent improvements in technology and management. As a result, Rusagro may increase the gross harvest of key agricultural crops, which though will largely depend on weather conditions at key stages of crop growing. Thus, moisture stress in the autumn period in the Central Federal District of Russia can have an adverse effect on the harvest. The use of digital algorithms for scheduling technological operations and digital business management tools will support the ramp-up of production efficiency.
As of the end of 2020, carry-overs of grain and oil crops amounted to 655 thousand tonnes of products, with a year-on-year increase of 129 thousand tonnes. Before the introduction of export restrictions, Rusagro sold a significant share of its products, however, the new conditions for regulating trade in agricultural crops will drive down the market prices and may count against business income, which touched a historical high in 2020.