Crystal stock prices fell 6 percent

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The sale price for American Crystal Sugar Co. beet stock declined 6 percent in the 2016-2017 selling season after an unusually long trading season.

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Mikkel Pates / Agweeik

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The sale price for American Crystal Sugar Co. beet stock declined 6 percent in the 2016-2017 selling season after an unusually long trading season.

Jayson Menke is ag stock specialist for FNC Ag Stock, based in Grand Forks, a subsidiary of Farmers National Company. FNC Ag Stock is a registered broker dealer that facilitates public sales for American Crystal stock, as well certain other cooperatives and limited liability companies.

The last American Crystal stock sale through FNC was May 9, when four sales totaled 100 shares traded at $2,350 per share. No further sales are likely, because the planting season is nearing completion.

Average sales for the 2016-2017 season was $2,470 per share for 3,239 shares. The largest sale of shares involved a single buyer who purchased 558 shares - 257 shares at $2,500 on Oct. 13 and another 301 shares at the same price on Oct. 27.

Despite the poor farm economy due to low commodity prices, only one producer indicated to FNC that he was selling shares to continue operating, Menke says.


Shares changing hands account for only about half of a percent of the company's total 498,000 shares. Crystal growers planted only about 398,000 acres, or about 80 percent of the share numbers, a figure that has changed based on the number of acres needed to feed the company's five sugar refining factories in the Red River Valley.

In the season a year ago, 971 shares were sold for 2015-2016 year at an average of $2,631 per share. The company's highest sale prices ever were in the 2012-2013 marketing year when 2,801 shares sold for an average of $3,946. The low average price since FNC has been keeping data in the mid-1990s, was 2000-2001 when 3,212 shares sold for an average of $855 per share.

High: $2,700

Menke says this year's sales highs were hit with two sales - $2,700 each for five shares sold on Sept. 8, 2016, and the same amount for 15 shares sold on April 26, 2017. The low was $2,050 for 75 shares sold on Dec. 20, 2016.

Menke says the season started earlier than ever before, with the first sale on Aug. 30, 2016. The latest start date for selling shares was Dec. 11, 2007, which came after the annual meeting. The average start date in the past ten years has been around Oct. 9.

"From late August through Halloween we had a kind of record pace for that time frame, with more than 1,400 shares sold," Menke says. Prices were hovering at about $2,500 per share about the time Crystal announced its first forecast payment of $38 per ton for the 2016 beet crop, which was less than what producers had hoped. The low projected beet price was influenced by Mexican imports and uncertainties over a labor contract that expires at the end of July 2017, officials said at the time.

In early January 2017, FNC sold temporarily out of shares at $2,250 a share, and farmers and their lenders watched to see which way the price would go, Menke says. Then shares were at $2,350 and values migrated toward the $2,500 per share range, in part influenced by a lack of supply in the market.

Over the past 10 years the average end date for selling was April 15.


This year May transactions totaled 232 shares traded in 14 transactions. That compares to the past ten years when a cumulative total of only two sales had ever made, totaling 30 shares. "The sellers were fortunate because there were some farmers who overplanted a few acres (and needed shares), and others bought shares to finish out fields," says Menke, adding, "It was also due in part to a later spring in the northern part of the valley."

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