Cargill profit jumps on grain, beef demand

(Reuters) —Cargill Inc. has reported a sharply higher quarterly net profit, helped by rising beef demand and stronger grain trading and processing margins.

The company’s net income rose 66 percent to US$852 million in the first quarter ended Aug. 31 from $512 million a year earlier.

Its operating profit rose to $827 million from $611 million, excluding items. Revenue fell marginally to $27.1 billion from $27.5 billion.

The strong results came despite warnings earlier this year from Cargill and other agribusinesses that weak commodity prices and oversupplied grain markets would create headwinds for agricultural traders.

Cargill is in the midst of a restructuring that has included the shedding of assets such as its U.S. pork business and U.S. retail agriculture outlets and the expansion of investments in food ingredients and aquaculture.

“We’ve been charting a new path to higher performance, and it’s rewarding to see the many changes we’ve made resulting in gains across much of the company,” chief executive officer David MacLennan said.

Cargill’s animal nutrition and protein segments, which include its cattle slaughter business, saw earnings rise sharply from a year earlier as the company’s beef business benefited from rising demand and low cattle costs because of an expanding North American herd.

Earnings rose moderately in the company’s origination and processing business as soybean processing margins improved, the company said.

Improved earnings from starches, sweeteners and edible oils also helped profits.

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