Cargill earnings bounce back led by food sector

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U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. reported a rebound in earnings after its worst quarter in a decade, led by record profits in its global food ingredient businesses and stronger results in energy trading.

Minneapolis-based Cargill, one of the world’s largest privately held corporations, reported $766 million in earnings from continuing operations for the fiscal third quarter ended Feb. 29, just ahead of $763 million a year earlier.

Revenue rose five per cent to $31.9 billion.

Third-quarter results represent a bounce back after Cargill’s second-quarter profits fell 88 per cent to $100 million — the worst quarterly performance since 2001, as earnings were hurt by investments made in equity markets and by distressed assets amid the European debt crisis.

Cargill, which operates in 65 countries, is a leading U.S. grain exporter, food processor, energy trader and biofuels producer. If Cargill were a publicly listed company, its 2011 sales of $119.5 billion would have ranked No. 13 on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. companies.

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