CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, U.S. — Archer Daniels Midland Co. capitalized on robust global demand through solid execution and utilization of its global footprint, posting strong third-quarter results.

ADM net income in the period ended Sept. 30 was $536 million, equal to 94¢ per share on the common stock, up 179% from $192 million, or 34¢ per share, in the third quarter of 2017. Net sales were $15.8 billion, up 6.5% from $14.827 billion. Adjusted for special items in the prior-year period, 2018 third-quarter earnings per share were up 104%.

“While delivering another strong quarter, the team also did a great job advancing our strategic plan, executed on key growth projects and accelerating our readiness efforts as we build the foundation to take our performance even higher,” Juan R. Luciano, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said during a Nov. 6 conference call with analysts. “Looking back on some of key accomplishments… In optimizing the core, our South American Origination team manages risk positions well, including the Brazilian freight situation, and is up substantially year-to-date over 2017. We continued to optimize our North American Origination footprint, monetize our investment in Agrible, and as mentioned last quarter, we completed the divestiture of our Bolivian Oilseeds business during the quarter.

“In our efforts to drive efficiencies, our operational excellence initiatives have delivered cost savings of more than $200 million on a run rate basis over the first three quarters of the year, already meeting our full-year 2018 target. We will, of course, continue those efforts.”

ADM’s Origination segment posted operating profit of $129 million in the third quarter, up 231% from $39 million in the same period a year ago. Sales were $5.850 billion, up 6%.

“Origination results were up substantially year-over-year with all businesses showing improvements,” said Ray G. Young, executive vice-president and chief financial officer. “Merchandising and handling was significantly higher versus the weak third quarter of 2017 as the team did a great job managing through a volatile price environment.

“In North America, we capitalized on our strong asset base to deliver higher volumes and margins, including strong export sales, particularly of corn to customers in markets outside of China. In global trade, it was a similar story as the team delivered stronger year-over-year results. The group did a great job to plan and execute through the droughts in Europe and Australia, utilizing our global network of origination assets and our expanding destination marketing capabilities to meet increasing demand for crops and products, particularly soybeans in meal in those regions.

“Transportation results more than doubled year-over-year as the ARTCO team utilized its assets, including the stevedoring capabilities we have invested in to capitalize on strong freight rates and export demand and deliver higher volumes and margins.”

Looking ahead, Young said ADM expects North American operations to be pressured by lower elevation margins due to sluggish demand from China. Overall, though, fourth-quarter results are expected to be solid.

Oilseeds operating profit was $349 million in the third quarter, up 208% from $113 million in the same period last year. Sales were $6.410 billion, up 12%.

Young said ADM set a new overall record for global crush volumes during the third quarter.

“The team leveraged a strong global asset base in our growing destination marketing capabilities as robust global meal demand, short crop in Argentina and the continuing U.S. China trade situation combine to support higher crush margins,” he said. “Soybean crush was the major driver of earnings growth in the business with North America, EMEA and South America all delivering substantially higher results year-over-year.”

Refining, packaging, biodiesel and other was down versus the prior year period. Young said peanut shelling margins were significantly lower in the period as large peanut inventories amid difficult market conditions resulted in some inventory write-downs for the company.

The ADM Carbohydrates Solutions segment, with operating profit of $288 million, was down 4% from $300 million in the third quarter last year. Sales were $2.534 billion, down 3%. Flour milling results were higher during the quarter on strong wheat procurement results and timing effects in both the United States and Canada, Young said.

Regarding bioproducts results, Young said ADM did a “good job” managing risk in an “extremely weak ethanol industry margin environment.”

Operating profits from the company’s Nutrition business were $67 million, down from $68 million in the third quarter last year. Sales were $922 million, up 4%.

“Nutrition was in line with the prior-year period with a very strong quarter from WFSI, offset by weaker performance in lysine,” Young said. “We continue to see good performance across WFSI, with results significantly higher than the prior-year period. The business delivered an impressive 10% year-over-year sales growth on a constant-currency basis and profit growth of more than 30%. Wild EMEA and North American results were substantially higher on portfolio mix and improved volumes, and we continue to add to our portfolio with the completion of Rodelle acquisition.

“In specialty ingredients, emulsifiers and proteins continued to perform well with strong year-over-year growth. And the health and wellness business continued to grow with the addition of Protexin.”

Year-to-date net income at ADM was $1,495 million, or $2.64 per share, up 85% from $807 million, or $1.41. Revenues were $48.394 billion, up 8% from $44.758 billion.

Luciano said ADM has made more than $5 billion in growth investments since 2014. The company has launched six new plants globally, purchased an integrated 17 companies, formed four new joint ventures and added five new innovation centers and laboratories. The company also has divested more than $2 billion in businesses and assets that it has deemed less strategic.

“We made many of our investments during times of strong industry headwinds, while still returning more than $8 billion in capital to shareholders, executing our balanced capital allocation framework and maintaining our solid balance sheet,” he said. “And what really gives me confidence about the future is that while many of these strategic investments have already begun to deliver benefits and be accretive to our results, the full impact of some of the recent ones is still coming. And when you are soon to close deals like Neovia and Algar to the mix, you can see why we are confident that our investments will continue to add to growth in earnings in 2019 and beyond.”