DECATUR — The transformation for Tate & Lyle that CEO Javed Ahmed proposed in 2010 is not yet complete.

But Ahmed said Thursday during a presentation to industry analysts “the transformation remains firmly on track.” Ahmed wants to make Tate & Lyle a more diversified, resilient and stronger company.

“We're well down this path, but we're not there yet,” Ahmed said.

As it continues to make changes, Ahmed said its focus will shift outside the more mature North American and European markets. It will continue to build a presence in emerging markets, he said.

Ahmed's update on Tate & Lyle's strategic plans came while presenting full fiscal year results for the period ending March 31. Ahmed said its adjusted pretax profit was approximately $538 million, a 2 percent drop from the prior year.

Earnings for the North American bulk ingredients division decreased 6 percent with a 2 percent drop in volume, said Tim Lodge, Tate & Lyle chief financial officer. The decrease was due in part to a softer carbonated beverage season with less consumption of those products, Lodge said.

The severe and prolonged winter could continue to impact results into the start of the next fiscal year, he said.

The U.S. ethanol segment, in which Tate & Lyle considers itself a small player, experienced a better performance and as market conditions improved, losses were reduced, Lodge said.

Tate & Lyle moved its North American headquarters from Decatur to Hoffman Estates in 2010 and established a speciality food ingredients center. Speciality food ingredients are at the forefront of the company's growth strategy, Ahmed said.

It wants to grow its Splenda sucralose volumes in lower calorie products and replace other sweeteners, Ahmed said. Sucralose is a less important contributor to the company's results than it was four years ago, he said.

“We see good opportunities for growth,” Ahmed said.

Competition for Splenda, however, is growing, he said. The competition could further impact Tate & Lyle's earnings, Ahmed said.

The pipeline of new products and innovations is strong, Ahmed said. Researchers are working on 35 projects in various stages of development with 10 projects in what Ahmed called the final stages of development that could be brought into the market within 12-18 months.

The company's investing is in line with its business needs and Ahmed said its balance sheet puts it in a position to take advantage of opportunities for growth.

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Staff Writer

Business Writer for the Herald & Review

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