Despite a more challenging global economic environment US agribusiness giant Cargill this week reported a substantial rise in earnings to $241 million (€221m) for the 2003 third quarter, up from $151 million a year ago. Proceeds received from litigation settlements helped boost the results.
The company also gained $3 million from nonoperating items, which brought net earnings under GAAP to $244 million in the third quarter.
For the first nine months of fiscal 2003, earnings from operations were $891 million, compared with $670 million a year ago, again helped by settlements with vitamin manufacturers involved in price-fixing lawsuits.
Sale of North Star Steel's tubular division and the adoption of new rules for goodwill accounting in the first quarter saw an additional $258 million, bringing Cargill's net earnings under GAAP to $1.15 billion for the first nine months.
"Cargill delivered solid results in often difficult circumstances during the third quarter," said Warren Staley, chairman and chief executive officer.
Staley confirmed that the private company would continue to concentrate on building collaborative relationships and 'customer solutions needed for long-term success.
As anticipated, many of Cargill's food, meat, oilseed processing and agricultural services business units reported more moderate operating results in the third quarter due to seasonal changes in supply and demand and the more difficult global economic environment. Cocoa, cotton and juice were among the stronger units.
The integration of Cerestar, the European speciality starch and sweeteners company aquired in August last year, continued to proceed on target. The new company combines Cerestar's research and applications centres and production facilities in Europe, the United States and China, with Cargill's sweetener and starch businesses around the world.
Cargill's Health & Food Technologies (H&FT) unit recently launched a new phytosterol brand, CoroWise, at the Nutracon-SupplyExpo West show in March. The division was also involved in speeding up a recent Food and Drug Administration action that will expand the use of the phytosterol heart-health claim to a broader range of foods and beverages.