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Company update: Cargill Q2 down

Cargill reported net earnings of $489 mln in the fiscal 2010 second quarter ended Nov. 30, down 59% from $1.19 bln in the same period a year ago.

In the first 6 months Cargill earned $1.01 bii, a 62% decrease from last year's record first half of $2.68 bln.

Excluding earnings from its majority investment in The Mosaic Company, Cargill's results were more moderately below the year-ago level in both periods.

"Cargill's business and geographic diversity continued to demonstrate its value, as a different mix of business units moved to the forefront in the second quarter," said Greg Page, Cargill chairman and CEO. "Performance was led by our food ingredients and agriculture services segments, both of which were up significantly from last year. With the global financial sector in recovery, we also realized much improved results in our risk management and financial segment."

Better earnings

Page noted Cargill's first-half earnings were considerably better than the last 6 months of fiscal 2009. "Through November, Cargill's earnings were up by more than 50% from the preceding 6 months. The pickup in performance reflects our continued focus on holding down costs, tapping both developed and faster-growing emerging markets, and reinvesting our capital in the future growth of the company and our customers. They, too, are working their way through the challenges of this economy."

Mosaic effect

Earnings in the origination and processing segment declined from the record level realized in last year's exceptionally volatile commodity markets. The industrial segment was down due to the sharp decline in earnings derived from Cargill's investment in The Mosaic Company.

During the second quarter, Cargill opened its sixth animal nutrition facility in Vietnam, which serves aquaculture producers in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap.

With joint venture partner Hojiblanca, Cargill began operating its new olive oil bottling plant in Antequera, Spain. The joint venture exports bottled oil products to European and overseas markets.

In South America, Cargill opened a sizable expansion to its malt facility in Rosario, Argentina.

As announced Dec. 10, the company has agreed to purchase food maker Goodman Fielder's commercial edible fats and oils business. The acquisition includes four refining facilities in Australia and New Zealand, which, along with Cargill's existing oilseeds refinery in Newcastle near Sydney, would provide it with national manufacturing and supply capabilities in both countries.  The sale includes a long-term agreement under which Cargill would supply refined fats and oils to Goodman Fielder.

Cargill expects the acquisition to provide a platform for future growth in Australia and New Zealand, including the ability to offer customers integrated food ingredient, product innovation, supply chain and risk management solutions. The purchase is subject to regulatory approval.

Natalie Berkhout

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