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American Crystal Sugar stock makes new high

Brokers handling American Crystal Sugar Co. stock share sales say the 2021-22 selling season saw a record high average of $4,217. The brokered share sales for the Moorhead, Minnesota-based co-op account for less than 1% of planted acres in the co-op.

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Rows of sugarbeets bask in bright sunshine west of Grand Forks on July 5, 2016.
Nick Nelson / Agweek file photo
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GRAND FORKS , N.D. — Prices of American Crystal Sugar Company shares hit a record high of $4,216.98 per share in the 2021-2022 sales season, according to brokers.

Jayson Menke, broker of Acres & Shares, based in Grand Forks, North Dakota, said the brokered sales over three companies totaled 4,375 shares. It’s uncertain how many additional sales are privately transferred.

American Crystal, based in Moorhead, Minnesota, has about 2,600 shareholders who raise about one-third of the nation’s sugarbeet acreage, in the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota.

Chris Griffin, president of Red River Land Co., also in Grand Forks, whose company also brokers shares for American Crystal, said the strong values probably were caused by stronger-than-expected yields for the conditions last year and the strong fall payment.

“It seems like an overall favorable ag environment,” Griffin said.

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The farmer-owned cooperative allows planting beets at a rate of 78% to 83%, so the traded shares account for 3,413 to 3,600 acres, which is less than 1% of total total planted acres.

Menke described the co-op’s shares as “thinly traded.”

American Crystal shares typically are traded from fall to spring. Brokered sales are handled by Acres and Shares, Red River Land Co., and FNC Ag Stock LLC. With the low number of sales traded annually, “one or two aggressive buyers or sellers can push the market by a couple of hundred bucks in a day,” Menke said.

The previous record-high share sales year was the 2012-13 season, when 3,121 shares sold at an average price of $3,941.32 per share. The 2021-22 crop years have been strong in net farm income, as were the years of the previous record.

Griffin acknowledged that the $3,941 per share average in 2012 would be worth $4,942.98, considering cumulative inflation rates totaling almost 26%, He said that those were two outstanding years.

“When farmers do well, financially they like to invest money back into their farm, whether buying beet stock or land,” Menke said. “Those are two of the avenues for investing back.”

This year the first sale for the season was Aug. 31, 2021, at $3,800 per share. The final sale of the season was April 27, 2022, at $4,200. Sales typically are accomplished before the May board meeting, to be approved by the co-op board.

Peak brokered sale prices occurred Nov. 8, 2022, at $4,650 per share. A total of 48 shares were brokered at that price, as well as 60 shares at $4,600.

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Those peak sales — from Nov. 5 to Nov. 15 — came at about the time of the factory district meetings where shareholders hear about the projected per ton beet payments.There were a total of six sales at $4,500 per share, totaling 56 shares.

Sales declined to $4,400 by the end of November, then bottomed out at about $4,100 per share at the end of December and early January before gradually increasing.

  • A year ago, there had been 4,830 brokered share sales, averaging $3,739.25 per share, with a range of $3,500 per share to $3,950 per share.
  • The five-year average for brokered sales is $3,494.37 per share, at an average of 4,369 shares sold.
  • The 10-year average for brokered shares sold is $2,929.70 per share, with an average number of 4,462 shares traded.
Mikkel Pates is an agricultural journalist, creating print, online and television stories for Agweek magazine and Agweek TV.
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