Cargill reported $766 million in earnings from continuing operations in the fiscal 2012 third quarter ended Feb. 29, 2012, essentially even with $763 million earned in the same period a year ago. In the first nine months, earnings from continuing operations were $1.1 billion, compared with $2.29 billion in the year-ago period. Both the prior year figures exclude earnings from Cargill's former majority investment in The Mosaic Company.
Consolidated revenues in the 2012 third quarter were $31.9 billion, a 5 percent increase from $30.5 billion a year ago. Nine-month revenues totaled $99.8 billion, up 18 percent from $84.7 billion in the prior period.
"Cargill's earnings strengthened in the third quarter, totaling more than twice that earned in the first six months of the fiscal year," said Greg Page, Cargill chairman and chief executive officer. "Although it continues to be an unsettled year for the global economy, we did a better job navigating the uncertainty. It reinforces our focus on creating value for our customers, improving our work processes and keeping our costs in check."
Cargill's food ingredients and applications segment was the largest contributor to the company's third quarter, with earnings up significantly from the year-ago period. Within the segment, the food ingredient businesses posted a record third quarter on a combined basis. Earnings among the segment's global group of meat businesses were improved from the second quarter, but meat results overall were still well below last year's record level due to the cyclical downturn in North American beef.
The agriculture services segment generated solid earnings in the third quarter, though not on par with last year. Within the segment, Cargill's global animal nutrition operations posted an improved performance, which was offset in part by decreased income in North American farm services. The reduction was largely attributable to changes in this year's global grain flows, which shifted more U.S. grain handling volume than is typical into the company's first half.
The origination and processing segment staged a sharp rebound in the third quarter from the preceding quarter's low. The grain and oilseed trading and processing businesses put their combined insight to good advantage in analyzing and managing the ongoing instability and risk in the global economic and geopolitical environment. The segment established favorable trading positions in most parts of the business, even though the slowdown in U.S. grain exports, the buildup in global oilseed processing capacity and geopolitical tensions made for challenging market conditions.
Third-quarter earnings in the risk management and financial segment were slightly below the year-ago level, with much stronger results among the segment's energy businesses.
An exceptionally mild winter across North America negatively impacted demand for deicing salt products, which held results in Cargill's industrial segment below last year's record third quarter.
Cargill continues to invest in facilities that strengthen its ability to be a reliable supplier and innovative partner to customers globally. In Brazil's southern state of Parana, the company broke ground on a corn wet milling plant in Castro. The corn wet mill, Cargill's second in Brazil, will produce a variety of sweetener and starch products for food and beverage applications, industrial products such as paper coatings, and co-products used in pet foods and animal feeds. Its first mill, in Uberlandia, was expanded by 70 percent in 2010.
Cargill is constructing a corn sweetener plant in China's Henan Province, which will be its third in China. The plant will serve nearby global and regional beverage makers.
As announced during the quarter, Cargill is modernizing its soybean crush plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; enlarging the Tacoma, Wash.-based TEMCO grain export terminal joint venture with cooperative and partner CHS; and returning to dual ownership the Louisiana Sugar Refinery joint venture with cooperative and partner Sugar Growers and Refiners. Cargill also completed the sale of its global flavors business to Kerry Group.