DECATUR, ILLINOIS, U.S. — Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) on May 3 reported third-quarter net earnings of $578 million and quarterly segment operating profit of $1 billion for the quarter ended March 31, up $157 million and $310 million, respectively, from the same period one year earlier.

ADM earned 86¢ diluted EPS, a 32% increase versus last year’s 65¢ third quarter.

Segment operating profit of $1 billion was up 45% from the same period last year. Oilseeds processing profit increased $107 million due to favorable ownership, strong North American results and the reversal of mark-to-market timing effects.

Corn processing profit increased $100 million on favorable ownership and good volumes for sweeteners, starches and lysine. Agricultural services profit increased $6 million, in line with the prior year’s results, amid challenging and volatile global markets.

“The ADM team performed very well. Against a backdrop of volatile commodity prices, a challenging margin environment and geopolitical instability in the Middle East, North Africa and Côte d’Ivoire, our team worked smart and hard and delivered strong results,” said Patricia Woertz, ADM chairman and chief executive officer. “As we look ahead, we are monitoring the planting and growing season in North America and Europe. Overall, global demand for crops and agricultural products remains relatively strong. In these conditions, ADM will use our unique global asset base and strong balance sheet to serve vital needs, efficiently connecting the world’s growers with the world’s buyers, and delivering value for our customers and our shareholders.”

Net earnings for the third quarter of $578 million increased $157 million due principally to a $310 million increase in segment operating profit. This increase was partially offset by changes in LIFO inventory valuations, included in corporate, caused by higher agricultural commodity prices.

Earnings before income taxes include a LIFO charge of $43 million this quarter, decreasing EPS by 4¢, compared to a LIFO gain of $43 million last year, which increased EPS by 4¢.

Oilseeds operating profit in the third quarter increased $107 million to $512 million.

Crushing and origination operating profit increased $133 million to $405 million for the quarter. Favorable ownership and strong North American results offset a decline from South America. European results increased significantly, principally on the reversal of mark-to-market timing effects.

Refining, packaging, biodiesel and other generated a profit of $89 million for the quarter, up $23 million from last year, as improved results from North and South America offset lower results from Europe.

Oilseeds results in Asia declined $49 million to $18 million for the quarter, principally reflecting ADM’s share of the weaker results from its equity investee, Wilmar International Limited.

For the quarter, corn processing operating profit increased $100 million to a profit of $204 million. Processed volumes were up 13%, reflecting increased production at the company’s corn processing plants, including the two new ethanol dry mills.

Sweeteners and starches operating profit of $46 million was essentially flat, as higher average selling prices and volumes were mostly offset by higher net corn costs. Export demand for sweetener remained strong, and U.S. demand for industrial starches improved.

Bioproducts profit in the quarter rose $99 million to $158 million, driven by favorable corn ownership and strong demand for value-added food and feed ingredients, particularly lysine.

Agricultural services operating profit of $171 million increased $6 million from last year’s results.

The global merchandising and handling team delivered good results, comparable to last year, amid a challenging environment of significant volatility in agricultural commodity markets, regional instability in the Middle East and North Africa, and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. U.S. export volumes and margins remained strong in the quarter.

Earnings from transportation operations improved on higher barge-freight rates.

In the third quarter, profits from ADM’s other business units increased $97 million to $119 million.

In other processing, profits in wheat milling and cocoa operations were $96 million, an increase of $87 million from the year-ago quarter, which included large mark-to-market charges in the cocoa operations. During the quarter, cocoa operations in Côte d’Ivoire were suspended, and ADM met customer needs through its global cocoa processing network.

Overall global economic conditions are being impacted by significant geopolitical developments, rising energy costs and evolving monetary and fiscal policies. These elements have the potential to temper global economic growth.

Regional crop supply imbalances are resulting in elevated prices and significant volatility. South America is harvesting a near-record soybean crop and has sufficient supply. In North America, the carryouts of corn and soybeans are projected to be tight, and farmers are beginning to plant. The global wheat supply is ample, and canola and rapeseed supplies vary by region.

Global demand for crops and agricultural products continues to grow. Global protein meal demand is firm. North American corn sweetener volumes are higher, led by Mexico. Ethanol consumption in the U.S. remains at maximum blendable levels, and global biodiesel demand is growing.