Cargill Earnings Rise 23 Percent

Thu, 04/14/2011 - 4:59am

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (AP) — Privately held Cargill Inc. reported net earnings of $1.1 billion for the latest quarter, up 23 percent from a year ago even as the company faces rising commodity prices.

The agriculture company has been trimming expenses but also is on a buying spree, purchasing Unilever's condiments business in Brazil this year, along with other acquisitions. CEO Greg Page said in a statement that improved earnings came at a time of "volatile commodity markets and geopolitical change." He credited the company's "ability to focus on the factors of supply and demand" and "gauging external events."

Earnings fell in Cargill's agricultural services segment, though it was boosted by farmers' demand for "grain marketing and price risk management services." Cargill produces and markets food, agricultural and industrial products and services, as well as accompanying financial services such as trading and risk management.

The agriculture giant also said it expects to shed its shares of Mosaic Co., the publicly held fertilizer company, by the end of June. Mosaic's revenue has been growing quickly, and the company has made up a hefty portion of Cargill's earnings. But Cargill said in January that it would distribute its 64 percent stake to its shareholders.

The move will help Cargill maintain its status as a private company while allowing the charitable trust of a Cargill family member to cash out its holdings. Cargill has also said the change will help it improve its credit ratings and focus on core operations. The change could also make Mosaic open to potential buyers.


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