Cargill Posts Strongest Quarter in Seven Years

Profit increased 50% in the third quarter, suggesting management and portfolio changes under way at the agribusiness giant "are beginning to yield ...
Matthew HellerMarch 30, 2017
Cargill Posts Strongest Quarter in Seven Years

Agribusiness giant Cargill posted a sharply higher quarterly profit, reflecting improved performance in sweeteners, bio-industrials, ocean shipping and chocolate.

The company said adjusted operating profit for the third quarter rose 50% to $715 million, while net profit increased 42% to $459 million from a year earlier. Revenue was up 8%, at $27.3 billion.

It was Cargill’s best third quarter in seven years. “We had strong results this quarter across our segments, evidence that we are on the right path forward,” CEO David MacLennan said in a news release.

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As The Financial Times reports, privately-held Cargill has effected something of a turnaround since bad soy bean and energy trades pushed it to an adjusted operating loss in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016.

“The improvements indicate that management and portfolio changes under way at the privately owned company are beginning to yield results,” the FT said.

Cargill’s food ingredient business was the biggest contributor to the third-quarter improvement, with its line of sweeteners performing well. Sales of cocoa and chocolate also boosted business, along with salts used to season foods and melt ice on North American highways.

The company said earnings in its animal nutrition and protein segment rose significantly, with the North American protein business continuing to benefit from renewed consumer demand for beef. The poultry business was boosted by higher cooked chicken exports out of Southeast Asia and improved processing yields and fresh chicken sales in Europe, but an avian flu outbreak in Korea and competition in China and Russia softened sales volume.

Ocean transportation earnings rose sharply, aided by better market conditions in ocean freight, as well as in the mining and steel industries.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune noted that Cargill has settled into a “pattern of shedding businesses with higher expenses and lower margin and looking for acquisition targets that are a better fit.”

“We are eager to keep pursuing the opportunities that we are seeing,” MacLennan said.

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