Cargill earnings rise, Mosaic stake lifts

CHICAGO Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:46am EDT

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. agribusiness and trading giant Cargill Inc CARG.UL said quarterly earnings rose 68 percent, boosted by its majority stake in fertilizer maker Mosaic Co (MOS.N) and its food and trading sectors.

Minneapolis-based Cargill, one of the world's largest privately held corporations, reported net earnings of $883 million for the quarter that ended August 31, from $525 million a year earlier.

Excluding earnings from its stake in Mosaic, Cargill earned $693 million, a 51 percent increase from the year-ago period.

First-quarter global revenue rose 6 percent to $27.8 billion.

Cargill, which operates in 66 countries, is a leading U.S. grain exporter, biofuels producer, food processor and energy trader, and holds a 64 percent share in Mosaic -- a top producer of phosphates and potash.

"Our results were led by the food ingredients and the commodity trading and processing segments, both of which experienced resurgence in volatility across agricultural commodity markets," Cargill CEO Greg Page said in a statement.

In the June-August quarter, for example, Chicago Board of Trade corn futures prices rose about 20 percent and soy prices climbed 8 percent while ICE cocoa futures fell 9.7 percent and sugar futures jumped 37 percent. CME cattle futures rose 4 percent and NYMEX crude fell 1 percent, both in choppy trade.

(Graphic on fertilizer companies and corn prices: link.reuters.com/nac28p)

First-quarter earnings were up in Cargill's industrial sector, which includes Mosaic, along with food ingredients and applications, and origination and processing sectors.

Mosaic said on October 4 that its first-quarter profit nearly tripled as demand for fertilizers soared. The company posted net income of $297.7 million compared with $100.6 million for the year-ago period.

Cargill earnings fell in its agriculture services sector due to decreased North American demand. The company's big risk management and financial segment also posted lower earnings, hampered by choppy energy markets, Cargill said.

(Reporting by Christine Stebbins, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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