Cargill earnings drop 88% on commodity challenges
by Jeff Gelski
MINNEAPOLIS — Cargill had $100 million in earnings from continuing operations in the second quarter ended Nov. 30, 2011, which marked an 88% decrease from $832 million in the previous year’s second quarter. Second-quarter consolidated revenues were $33.3 billion, up 17% from $28.5 billion in the previous year’s second quarter.
“The second quarter was significantly below expectations, especially in contrast to last year when we posted our strongest quarter ever,” said Greg Page, chairman and chief executive officer of Cargill. “Our food ingredients and agriculture service businesses generated solid earnings. At the same time, our commodity-based trading and asset management businesses faced significant challenges.
“First, commodity and financial markets were driven more by political uncertainties than by underlying supply and demand fundamentals. Second, our performance in the sugar market was poor. Additionally, our meat business on a combined basis experienced one of their weakest quarters. Finally, we recognized a significant number of one-time items, including asset impairments, and acquisition and integration expenses.”
The food ingredients and applications department made the largest contribution to second-quarter earnings, according to Cargill. Shrinking U.S. fed cattle supplies pressured margins in beef. Cargill’s recent acquisitions in food ingredients in Europe and Brazil and in animal protein in Central America were accretive to second-quarter earnings.
Cargill in the second quarter completed the acquisition of Provimi, a leading animal nutrition company, for an enterprise value of $2 billion. Costs related to the acquisition were recorded in the agriculture services department. Weaker results in asset management, which was due to stress in global financial markets, more than offset strong performance in risk management services to customers.
For the first six months of the fiscal year, Cargill had earnings from continuing operations of $336 million, which compared with $1,530 million in the same time period of the previous year, and revenues of $67.9 billion, which compared with $54.2 billion in the same time period of the previous year.
Mr. Page said Cargill is working to reduce its costs and simplify its work processes.
“Cargill has been through difficult cycles before, made changes and emerged stronger for it,” he said. “We are confident that the actions we are taking to create a more agile enterprise will better position us in the current economic environment.”