Cargill reports profit increase of 62% in fiscal 2003

by Emily Buckley
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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, U.S. — Cargill Inc. said its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings increase of 3% pushed net earnings for the 2003 fiscal year to $1.29 billion, a 62% increase from $798 million the previous year. Those results include a $254 million gain from discontinued operations and new rules for goodwill accounting.

Warren Staley, Cargill’s chief executive, said the company’s earnings and sales growth reflected improvements in a majority of its businesses. In particular, he cited strong growth in the company’s food ingredients businesses in Europe, North America and Latin America.

In addition, the company’s animal nutrition business, its red meat division and its egg products segment all performed well in fiscal 2003, Staley said. He added that the company’s global grain and oilseed supply chain, along with its risk management and financial businesses, contributed to the year’s solid performance.

Staley praised the company’s work in integrating Cerestar. Cargill bought a majority stake in the France-based company in April 2002, then bought the remainder four months later. In addition to Cerestar, a leading global marketer of starches and sweeteners, the company in fiscal 2003 purchased the Peter’s Chocolate brand and, through a joint venture, the flour milling business of Australia’s Goodman Fielder. It also bought Provimi Kliba, a leading animal nutrition company in Switzerland, and the phosphate assets of Farmland Hydro in Florida.