Yara is in a position to take advantages of volatile and fluctuating markets. Remaining loyal to our long-term perspectives, ambitions and goals, we are determined to pursue future business opportunities.
Taking over as the CEO in October 2008, the financial crisis hit us. However, I joined the management of a company well positioned to handle the volatility of the financial market and the fluctuations of the fertilizer market; with the ability to exploit other markets.
2008 put our industrial platform and business model to tough tests, challenging our ability to handle demand volatility. We stood the test, demonstrating the flexible strengths of our business model, taking action to mitigate the effects of the slow-down towards the end of the year by reducing third-party sourcing and curtailing production.
Yara’s performance over the past five years has been notable, with 2008 clearly the best so far. Our solid underlying improvement year by year continued, and we recorded our best year with regard to revenues, net income, and a cash return on gross investments of 22.8 percent, which is well above our stated long-term goal.
We continued to deliver on our strategy, seeking initiatives and seizing opportunities in key markets. Our acquisition of Saskferco in Canada already shows positive results; in 2009 our new joint venture Lifeco in Libya will add to our global strength.
Joining Yara after years in leadership positions within global industry, I appreciate the value of our strong industrial platform and flexible business model, our market presence and financial discipline; our ambitions. I also recognize the value of a dynamic organization and an innovative culture, which it is imperative to nurture and develop.
Participating at the World Economic Forum in Davos in early 2009, I noticed a gloomy mood. Still, in the working session Yara hosted, on agricultural growth initiatives in Africa, optimism reigned. We all need food, and agricultural output has to be increased – requiring improved agricultural productivity, based on mineral fertilizers and agronomic expertise. Yara provides both. The long-term fundamentals for fertilizer demand remain strong. With climate change and stricter regulations, demand for environmental solutions will also grow.
Mineral fertilizers lie at the heart of our business, and it is my ambition to strengthen our position in several markets. Environmental solutions represent a great opportunity, which Yara is ready to take advantage of. Constantly anticipating change – continuously developing business.
Jørgen Ole Haslestad
President and CEO