US food company Cargill, the new owner of French starch manufacturer Cerestar, reported $161 million (€182m) in earnings for the third quarter ended February 28, up 63 per cent from $99 million earned in the same period a year ago.
Earnings for the first nine months of fiscal 2002 totaled $683 million, a 53 per cent increase from the $445 million net income reported for the first three quarters of last year.
"Cargill continued to benefit from a broader base of earnings worldwide," said Warren Staley, chairman and chief executive officer.
"The majority of our food ingredient businesses in Europe and North America, animal nutrition at home and abroad, the egg, pork and poultry processing units, and the export-oriented grain and oilseeds businesses delivered improved results from a year ago, although the third quarter was not as strong as the preceding two," he added.
Earnings in Cargill's beef processing business were below last year's level due to the slower US economy and weaker export market for beef and beef by-products. Cattle feeding losses incurred in the prior quarter were reduced.
Staley confirmed that company earnings were negatively impacted by the currency devaluation and deepening economic difficulties in Argentina.
"Cargill has operated in Argentina for 55 years. Our people are drawing on that experience to manage the company's exposure and help restore greater certainty to the country's domestic and export markets," said Staley.
The company claimed the third quarter was marked by "a strong and geographically balanced performance" among Cargill's financial businesses. Higher company earnings overall were also attributed to lower energy costs.
Staley credited Cargill's stronger financial performance to good global teamwork, excellent risk management, a tight rein on costs and a relentless focus on creating and delivering shared value to customers.
"We at Cargill are developing a common mindset to discover and fulfill our customers' unmet needs in distinctive ways," said Staley.
Earlier this month Cargill acquired the leading French starch company Cerestar, by purchasing Montedison's 56 per cent shareholding in the French company. It intends to initiate a public tender offer for the remaining 44 per cent of Cerestar shares.
Staley noted that the acquisition would complement the focus on helping customers succeed as Cerestar is known for its relationships with foodmakers and other users of starches and sweeteners.
Cargill launched a new corporate logo in February which is intended to show its shift to a solutions mindset.