Cargill Profit Gains Beef, Soybean Meal Exports to Asia

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Cargill Inc., the largest closely held company in the U.S., posted a 33 percent gain in fiscal third-quarter earnings on higher exports of beef and soybean meal to Asia.

Net income increased to $425 million in the three months through Feb. 28 from $319 million a year earlier, the Minneapolis-based company said Thursday in a statement. Sales dropped 11 percent to $28.4 billion.

The quarterly report provides one the few public disclosures of performance by the 150-year-old company, which is still controlled by its eponymous founding family. Cargill trades and stores crops and metals, processes livestock and produces food ingredients in 67 countries.

“Results were led by strong performance in our global group of meat and animal nutrition businesses,” Chief Executive Officer David MacLennan said in the statement.

The stronger U.S. dollar boosted beef shipments from Australia to the U.S. and Asia, Lisa Clemens, a Cargill spokeswoman, said in an interview. Poultry sales volume grew in Central America, she said.

Earnings also rose in the company’s origination and processing segment, helped by greater demand for U.S. soybean meal exported to China and other Asian countries, Clemens said.

The food ingredients and applications business saw lower profit as slowing economies in developing markets reduced the utilization of processing capacity for items such as sweeteners and edible oils, she said. Results for Cargill’s industrial and financial services unit were also lower.

The year-earlier period was unusually weak for Cargill. At the time, it reported an unspecified loss from U.S. power trading, and that it had suffered after China had turned away some corn shipments. On Thursday, the company said its energy business had “staged a rebound.”

“The energy team successfully navigated the dramatic decline in global crude oil prices and the volatility in petroleum markets,” the company said in the statement.

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