With heightened volatility, Cargill profits surge

by Josh Sosland
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MINNEAPOLIS — Net earnings at Cargill in the first quarter ended Aug. 31 were $883 million, up 68% from the same quarter in fiscal 2010. Sales were $27.8 billion, up 6%.

Excluding the results of Cargill’s majority stake in The Mosaic Co., Cargill net income was $693 million, up 51%.

“Cargill posted a strong start to the new fiscal year,” said Greg Page, Cargill chairman and chief executive officer. “Our results were led by the food ingredients and the commodity trading and processing segments, both of which experienced resurgence in volatility across agricultural commodity markets. The change put Cargill’s global breadth, trading and risk management skills more acutely into play as we worked with customers to help them manage their price risk and raw material needs.”

Breaking down its business results by unit, Cargill said origination and processing profitability improved significantly “as renewed market volatility and changes in trade flows created opportunities for trading and for serving customers’ price risk and raw material needs.”

Better performance by the company’s food ingredient and animal protein business yielded moderate profit gains for those divisions.

Profits also were higher for the company’s investment in Mosaic, but two Cargill businesses did not generate earnings improvement.

“Earnings declined in agriculture services, reflecting seasonality in North American farm services and volume pressure in some animal nutrition markets,” the company said. “The risk management and financial segment posted lower earnings, hampered by choppy energy markets that often moved out of step with supply-and-demand fundamentals.”

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