USA: Cargill reports earnings drop 7% in Q4 2011

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Cargill, international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services, on Tuesday reported $404 million in earnings from continuing operations in the fiscal 2011 fourth quarter ended May 31, a 7 percent decrease from $435 million in the same period a year ago. For the full fiscal year, earnings from continuing operations totaled $2.69 billion, a 35 percent increase from $1.99 billion in the prior fiscal year.

The company recorded an additional $359 million in the fourth quarter from discontinued operations – income attributable to Cargill’s former majority investment in The Mosaic Company. For the full fiscal year, income from discontinued operations was $1.55 billion. Cargill also recognized a one-time accounting gain of $11.49 billion on the May 25, 2011, distribution of its Mosaic shares, which were exchanged for Cargill stock and Cargill debt.

Fourth quarter consolidated revenues were $34.8 billion, a 32 percent increase from $26.3 billion in the year-ago period. Full-year consolidated revenues were $119.5 billion, up 18 percent from $101.3 billion in the prior year. Cash flow from operations was $4.6 billion compared with last year’s $3.3 billion.

“The past year presented a challenging operating environment for Cargill and our customers,” said Greg Page, Cargill chairman and chief executive officer. “From weather-related supply shocks in food commodities, grain export restrictions and rising energy prices to the uneven global economic recovery, looming sovereign debts and deficits, political unrest and natural disasters – the uncertainty led to volatile prices across a range of raw materials. Cargill sought to be a ‘port in the storm’ for our customers, sourcing food and feedstuffs from multiple origins, handling the logistics, managing the risk and delivering reliably.”

Three of Cargill’s five business segments increased earnings in the fourth quarter. Four of the five improved results in the full year. Origination and processing led Cargill’s fiscal 2011 earnings, with results up for the quarter and the year. The segment used its global sourcing and risk management capabilities to deliver reliably to customers while meeting challenges posed by weather-related crop production problems in key growing areas, changing trade flows and fluctuating commodity prices. Despite a softer fourth quarter, the food ingredients and applications segment increased earnings from the year-ago period. The diverse segment, which includes about 40 business units, benefited variably from a mix of factors including higher sales volumes, effective risk management, improved yields and more value-added offerings. Agriculture services posted a strong fourth quarter and year. The segment, which provides crop and livestock producers worldwide with farm services and products, relied on its risk management and grain marketing skills to handle rising input costs and help customers do the same. Industrial earnings also rose in the fourth quarter and full year, boosted by favorable demand and operating efficiencies. Results declined in risk management and financial for the quarter and the year due to lower earnings among the energy businesses.

During fiscal 2011, Cargill invested more than $3 billion in acquisitions and new or expanded facilities that strengthen our commitment to being a reliable supplier and innovative partner to our customers in developed and emerging markets. The company acquired the AWB commodity management business in Australia, Unilever’s shelf-stable condiments business in Brazil, Indonesian starch and sweetener maker PT Sorini Agro Asia Corporindo Tbk, Royal Nedalco’s potable alcohol operations in Europe, a Chinese port facility, a Canadian grain facility and a U.S. corn wet mill ethanol facility. Cargill also is building new or expanded plants in several countries, including animal feed mills in Russia and Vietnam, poultry processing operations in Thailand, a sweetener facility in China and food innovation centers in Brazil and the United States. As it does every year, Cargill also made improvements to existing plants and assets that help keep them safe, energy efficient and environmentally sound.

On May 25, 2011, Cargill and The Mosaic Company completed the closing of the transaction in which Cargill divested its approximately 64 percent stake in Mosaic by exchanging approximately 286 million Mosaic shares for Cargill stock held by the company’s family shareholders, including the Margaret A. Cargill charitable trusts, and for Cargill debt held by third parties. The transaction maintains Cargill’s status as a private company while meeting the diversification and distribution needs of the charitable trusts, enhances the company’s credit profile and ensures its financial results are fully aligned with the performance of the businesses Cargill manages directly. Although no longer a shareholder of Mosaic, Cargill continues to be a customer of Mosaic.

In the first few months of fiscal 2012, Cargill completed the purchase of German cocoa and chocolate company Schwartauer Werke Kakao Verarbeitung Berlin (KVB), Central American poultry and meat processor Corporaci?n Pipasa, and Italian animal nutrition company Raggio di Sole Mangimi. In May, Cargill’s Australian beef operations agreed to form a joint venture with Australian beef processing company Teys Bros. Cargill and the USJ Group announced an agreement in June to establish a Brazil-based sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity joint venture. Both agreements are subject to regulatory approval.