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Bunge explores sale of Brazilian sugar business

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- Agribusiness company Bunge Ltd. said Thursday that it is considering a potential sale of its Brazilian sugar business after the unit dragged down its third-quarter performance.

The White Plains, N.Y.-based company said that poor weather and low global sugar prices, along with other pricing pressures, are hurting its Brazilian milling operations. Given the challenges, the company said it has started "to explore all alternatives to optimize the value of this business."

Bunge posted a loss of $137 million, or 94 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Sept. 30. That is compared with earnings of $289 million, or $1.92 per share, for the same quarter last year. After excluding certain gains and charges from discontinued operations, it had earned $2.05 from continuing operations versus $2.07 per share last year.

Its total revenue slipped to $14.7 billion from $16.54 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet were anticipating adjusted earnings of $2.24 per share on revenue of $16.8 billion.

Bunge said that it expects a good fourth quarter, helped by strong performance in its agribusiness and food units. The company lowered its performance expectations for its Brazilian sugar milling business for the fourth quarter but expects the unit to be profitable in 2014.

Shares of the company fell $1.05 to $79.93 in afternoon trading amid a broader market uptick.