Reinventar el Negocio Agrícola

En Diciembre pasado redacté mi 1º columna sobre el tema, donde desarrollé una mirada muy crítica a la actual rentabilidad del sector.  Luego vinieron los desastres climáticos que dejaron perdidas multimillonarias por inundaciones. Por Diego Palomeque * Todos sabemos que el clima es el “big boss” (y el gran regulador) […]

En Diciembre pasado redacté mi 1º columna sobre el tema, donde desarrollé una mirada muy crítica a la actual rentabilidad del sector.  Luego vinieron los desastres climáticos que dejaron perdidas multimillonarias por inundaciones.

agro PalomequePor Diego Palomeque *

Todos sabemos que el clima es el “big boss” (y el gran regulador) de ésta actividad, por el sencillo hecho de ser una industria a cielo abierto; el exceso y la falta de agua son fenómenos que juegan éste partido, y como en Argentina los seguros multiriesgo climático son prohibitivos (de nuevo, porque el negocio está “enfermo” en cuanto a márgenes), el riesgo queda enteramente en cabeza del farmer.

Decía en mi anterior columna tratando de explicar los motivos del fenómeno de una rentabilidad muy ajustada para el negocio de sembrar la tierra:

  • El mundo viene asistiendo a un fenómeno de cosechas record sucesivas, tendencia que no tiene retorno. Cada vez se producirán mas granos y eso no cambiará hacia adelante.
  • La tecnología empuja al alza los costos de producción, buscando convergencia con los niveles de precios y achicando los márgenes.
  • Es un negocio sin barreras de entrada; atrás del año bueno las pujas distributivas (principalmente ajustes de alquileres, de servicios, y de costos de insumos) castigan el margen del año siguiente.
  • El productor promedio es muy eficiente dentro del lote, es un poco menos eficiente en la fijación de precios, es un puro tomador de costos en la logística, y definitivamente no suele manejar correctamente la financiación de su negocio, seguramente porquees el área donde menos expertise tiene.
  • Finalmente, balances con mucho apalancamiento financiero, que además es estructuralmente corto; no es ningún secreto que en Argentina la agricultura es un negocio que se trabaja “con la plata de otro”

Creo sinceramente que ese es el diagnóstico, y a la vez, como todo diagnóstico, es el punto de partida de pensar soluciones. La agricultura es un negocio cuyo margen económico depende de las eficiencias que el negocio permite capturar a lo largo del año, quien las toma verá el efecto en su margen, quien las deja pasar no alcanza a cuantificar su costo de oportunidad (porque los balances no reflejan el “lucro cesante”).

Me quiero concentrar en dos áreas de la gestión: ponerle precio a los granos, y como financiar correctamente los inventarios para vender cuando es correcto (no cuando la caja lo exige)

Gestión comercial, o como pricear correctamente la producción

Todos miramos precios del disponible, precios del futuro, leemos muy buena literatura acerca de análisis de evolución de mercados, y ni que hablar de reportes climáticos. Si algo no podemos decir, es que el productor no tiene información para tomar decisiones; al contrario, tiene sobredosis de información.

Ahora bien, porque la mayoría de los productores solamente vende en el mercado físico, incluso cuando la cosecha “ya está armada” y los riesgos climáticos se disipan o valen menos ?

Mi tesis para explicar eso es sencilla:  no hay familiaridad con los instrumentos de cobertura, y no muchos productores pueden explicar el funcionamiento de una opción, por citar un caso. No es que no tengan los activos intelectuales para entenderlo, lo que sucede es que son productos de mucha abstracción para razonarlos, arduos para el entendimiento;  y llevar su cabeza a ese nivel de abstracción no le sienta cómodo al productor promedio. Mas fácil vender sólo en el mercado físico y ya.

Sin dudas es mas fácil ver un precio y gatillar una orden de venta. Pero si la estrategia comercial es esa, lamento decir que el negocio se está perdiendo de monetizar la “prima de complejidad”: trabajar una variable compleja como es ponerle precio a toda la producción sólo contra coyuntura de precio de mercado forward o disponible implica asumir un lucro cesante que hasta podemos decir que no existe, ya que el balance no va a mostrar la potencial ganancia no realizada.

Haciendo corto lo largo: hay que usar todas las herramientas, tanto en el mercado físico como en el de derivados agrícolas, para asegurar la captura de ese valor económico que llamo “prima de complejidad”. Y si entender el funcionamiento de una basis, de una opción, de un negocio de acumuladores, o de algún sintético, resulta arduo al entendimiento (que lo es) en el mercado hay muy buenos proveedores de éste servicio que lo manejan de taco, tanto en el corretaje como en servicios de consultoría comercial.

Todo auto que usa 3 de las 4 ruedas corre en desventaja, siempre. Productor que no usa éstas herramientas cuando el mercado lo pide, sólo asume pagar la “prima de sencillez” que es otra forma de llamar a la ganancia no realizada por no poner foco en gerenciar todo el abanico de herramientas de pricing.

Los partidos difíciles no se juegan sin armar un buen equipo…y la agricultura no es un negocio para hacerle frente a todos sus riesgos con un solo cuerpo y una sola mente….que sabio para todos es decir “esto no lo sé hacer..me das una mano ?”

Si financio bien, gano buena plata

Si vemos el financiamiento sólo como el costo de capital de terceros que hay que reducir lo mas que se pueda, mi respuesta es que esa mirada es errónea; no porque el concepto esté mal expresado, sino por incompleto.

Cosecho la soja en mayo, y tengo un pase de XX dólares por tonelada en noviembre. Cosecho el trigo en diciembre y tengo un pase de XX dólares por toneladas en julio. Estos comportamientos del mercado lo podemos ver mucho tiempo durante el año, y todos los años. Asumamos que ese es el escenario, donde el precio de los futuros cortos es mayor que el precio con entrega inmediata:

  • Si toda mi deuda la calcé con vencimiento a la cosecha de soja, en Mayo se acabó el partido. Tengo que vender la soja, repagar deuda, y volver a tomarla para el próximo ciclo agrícola. No tengo capacidad de “carry” para jugar en el post cosecha que es donde aparecen las oportunidades de precio ligadas a la volatilidad.
  • Si planifico mi deuda estructurando vencimientos a mas de un ciclo anual, lo que estaré haciendo no es un beneficio financiero, sino comercial: estoy dejando la plata mayor tiempo en el flujo de la compañía, que es lo mismo que decir que estiré la ventana de tiempos para ponerle precio a mi posición comercial. Y el diferencial de precio de la producción por esa estrategia de “comprar tiempo”, es todo margen. El spread de costo financiero que se paga por mayor plazo es insignificante frente al beneficio.

El concepto de “pensar el formato de la deuda para generar mas valor económico desde el negocio” tiene mas complejidad y mas aristas, pero creo que lo explicado es un sencillo botón de muestra de dónde está el repago por asumir –nuevamente- la “prima de complejidad” al pensar la forma de los pasivos financieros que soportan el capital de trabajo.

Si a la eficiencia en el lote, que está y es por lejos la mejor habilidad del productor promedio, le agregamos la captura de la “prima de complejidad” en la estrategia de precios y en la forma de financiar el negocio, las eficiencias empezarán a repagar económicamente. Hace mucho rato ya, que en todas las industrias margina mejor el que mas conocimiento aplica a sus decisiones.

No hay que reescribir ningún libro ni nada de lo aprendido se ha vuelto obsoleto: sencillamente el negocio se volvió mucho mas complejo con los años y quién decidió no subirse a ese colectivo lo paga aunque no lo perciba. En todo caso, todo aquel que quiere que su negocio mejore su tasa de retorno tendrá que volver al “pan y queso” de la infancia, que era el punto de partida de formar un buen equipo que complemente la gestión del productor en aquellos temas donde no tiene suficiente expertise. Caso contrario les dejo una “frase-síntesis” que parece de CR7 pero que la escuché 20 años atrás de un ex jugador de Boca “perdimos…pero yo jugué bien”.

* El autor es Director Académico del Curso de Postgrado en Agronegocios de AgroEducación

 

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Reinventar el Negocio Agrícola

tiempo de lectura: 6 min