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Cargill’s Profit Quadruples as Crop Segment Improves

Cargill Inc., the largest closely held U.S. company, said fiscal second-quarter profit quadrupled with the biggest contribution coming from the segment that handles and processes crops.

Net income climbed to $409 million in the three months through November from $100 million a year earlier as four of its five segments improved, the Minneapolis-based company said today in a statement. Sales rose 6 percent to $35.2 billion.

Profit increased on better oilseed-processing margins in North America and Europe, more products in the animal-nutrition unit from its 2011 acquisition of Provimi SA and large grain shipments in Canada, Cargill said. The meat business benefited from higher volume or margins even with higher raw-material and feed costs, the company said.

“The markets were focused on supply and demand,” Lisa Clemens, a Cargill spokeswoman, said today in a telephone interview. “A year ago they were dominated by political uncertainty.”

Some concerns and questions about China’s growth prospects and Europe’s debt have been allayed while fundamental factors such as the worst U.S. drought since the 1930s have played a greater role, Clemens said.

Following two years of capital spending that focused on acquisitions, Cargill is putting more emphasis on building or expanding plants, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Greg Page said in the statement. In the first half of fiscal 2013, the company has brought a grain terminal online in Canada, expanded liquid-sweetener capacity in China and added oilseed crush capacity in Europe, Clemens said.

Forbes ranked Cargill the largest closely held U.S. company by revenue in a 2012 survey.

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