Grain, Meat Drive Big Profit Jump at Cargill

MINNEAPOLIS (Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS) -

Cargill’s grain-handling and meat businesses anchored a big increase in profits during the agribusiness giant’s latest quarter.

Minnetonka, Minn.-based Cargill, one of the world’s largest privately held companies, posted a 41 percent jump in profit to $784 million during the three months ended Nov. 30, its second fiscal quarter. Revenue fell 8 percent to $30.3 billion.

“With first-rate performance in our agricultural, animal nutrition and meat businesses, Cargill posted strong results, outpacing recent quarters by a good margin,” David MacLennan, Cargill’s CEO, said in a statement.

Cargill’s grain origination and processing business — the largest contributor to its earnings — saw earnings rise “considerably” over a year ago, Cargill said. The business was buoyed by record soybean and corn harvests in the United States combined with strong domestic and export demand.

Cargill’s animal feed and protein business — which covers meat processing — had a significant increase in earnings. Results were led by Cargill’s Australian beef business and its U.S. cattle feeding and processing operations. Also, Cargill’s U.S. turkey business had one of its best Thanksgiving seasons.

Cargill’s food and ingredients business, which covers everything from chocolate to brewers malt, experienced a decrease in profits from a year ago. However, excluding a charge for the closure of Cargill’s corn mill in Memphis, profits in the food and ingredients business were up “moderately.”

Results were mixed in Cargill’s industrial and financial-services segment, the smallest of its four major business units.