CHS Eyes What's "Next"

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CHS Eyes What's "Next"

MINNEAPOLIS -- At the company's annual meeting held here last week, leaders of CHS Inc. -- parent company to the Cenex brand of convenience stores and fuel -- said the organization's future success lies not in its ability to predict the future, but in its skill at navigating future industry and economic volatility.

"As we move ahead, our success, no matter what unknowns are around the next bend, lies in being proactive, not reactive," CHS president and CEO John Johnson said. "When we look to the future, we see ourselves as an evolving energy, grains and foods company able to provide a broad range of solutions to help our stakeholders succeed."

The event drew 2,500 CHS member-owners and other guests to the Minneapolis Convention Center from Nov. 29 to 30. The theme of the meeting was "Next."

Earlier this month, CHS reported record fiscal 2007 results, with net income of $750.3 million on revenues of $17.2 billion -- the fourth consecutive record year for both financial benchmarks. For fiscal 2006, CHS recorded net income of $490.3 million on revenues of $14.4 billion, according to a company statement.

CHS, the nation's largest member-owned cooperative, also released its first social responsibility report at the annual meeting, detailing the company's achievements in environmental, health, safety, philanthropic and governance performance.

"We know that how we achieve success is as important as success itself," said Michael Toelle, CHS chairman and a Browns Valley, Minn., farmer. "Success means commitment and leadership. It means doing the right things when it comes to safety, environmental compliance, community support and daily business operations."

Based on the company's fiscal 2007 earnings, CHS announced that it expects to return a record $388 million to eligible owners, including patronage and equity redemptions -- an increase from $253 million returned based on fiscal 2006 earnings. This marks the fourth consecutive record cash return for the company.

CHS chief financial officer John Schmitz said amid tremendous market volatility, "CHS maintained its prudent and disciplined financial course. We carried out the growth plans we had in place, and kept our focus on returning value for our stakeholders."

Among CHS highlights for fiscal 2007 were:

-- Growth of its Multigrain SA joint venture in Brazil and the opening of grain-trading offices in Geneva, Switzerland, and Hong Kong, China, to increase its ability to serve grain customers in 60 countries year-round;

-- Acquisition of the crop nutrients business of Agriliance LLC, its longtime agronomy joint venture with Land O'Lakes Inc.;

-- Investment in its Cenex-brand retail locations with the introduction of a new image program;

-- Near completion of a coker unit at its Laurel, Mont., refinery to increase refining yields and construction of two Montana petroleum pipeline terminals to enhance supply to its customers; and

-- Investment in several insurance- and risk management-related businesses to expand CHS' ability to provide a wide range of business solutions for its agribusiness customers.

CHS Inc. is a diversified energy, grains and foods company owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives, along with thousands of preferred stockholders, from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Northwest and from the Canadian border to Texas.

CHS supplies energy, crop nutrients, grain, livestock feed, food and food ingredients, along with business solutions including insurance, financial and risk management services. The company operates petroleum refineries/pipelines and manufactures, markets and distributes Cenex-brand refined fuels, lubricants, propane and renewable energy products.