Archer Daniels Midland
ADM is a leader in processing oil seeds, including soybeans, and has benefited from a rise in soybean price levels in recent months. Still, recent articles in the Chicago Tribune and TheWall Street Journal chronicle rising agricultural production in places such as Brazil and Russia. With this added output coming on line, it would seem that soybean prices should fall in due course. Even with this new supply, though, soybeans will probably remain a good business. Driving this trend is the force behind rising demand for oil and many other commodities: China.
In its most recent quarter, ADM nearly doubled its profits thanks to solid market conditions in soybeans and other commodities. The company's secrets are fairly simple. It has agricultural assets in the United States and Brazil to keep raw supply rolling into China, and investments in processing plants in the country to serve the end marketplace there. China recently threw somewhat of a monkey wrench into the equation: The government blocked soybean imports from Brazil after the discovery of an offending fungicide in some shipments. But even this controversy looks like it may soon lift.
ADM is not the flashiest of stocks, but the firm looks well positioned to take advantage of the current environment. With arable land in China giving way to factories and other development, and the country enjoying more processed foods, ADM is ready to fill the void.
Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer living in Chicago, Ill. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned here.