CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, US — Earnings after income taxes of Ardent Mills LLC totaled $144.5 million in the 12 months ended May 31, down 4.9% from $151.9 million in fiscal 2019. Adjusted for special items earnings were higher in fiscal 2020 than the year before. The business earned $197 million in fiscal 2018.

Net sales were $3.4 billion, down 2.4% from $3.5 billion in 2019.

Results for Ardent Mills were included in the Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 24 by Conagra Brands, Inc.

Conagra’s share of equity method investment earnings in fiscal 2020 were $73.2 million, down slightly from $75.8 million in fiscal 2019. The profits for fiscal 2020 included a gain of $4.1 million; in fiscal 2019 gains were $15.1 million.

Conagra said Ardent Mills results for the year were boosted by a strong fourth quarter.

“Ardent Mills earnings for fiscal 2020 reflected increased retail demand in the fourth quarter, which more than offset reduced foodservice demand and unfavorable market conditions during the first three quarters of the year after adjusting for the items mentioned above,” the company said.

Based on filings with the SEC earlier over the past nine months, Conagra’s share of equity method investment earnings in the fiscal 2020 fourth quarter were $22.9 million, up 149% from $9.2 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019. Through the first three quarters of the fiscal year, Conagra’s share of equity method investment earnings was down 24%.

Conagra estimated the carrying value of its equity method investments at $798.7 million at the end of fiscal 2020, up from $796.3 million a year earlier. Conagra Brands owns 44% of Ardent Mills and 50% of its other, smaller joint ventures. Conagra received $51.4 million in dividends from its equity method investments in fiscal 2020, down from $55 million in fiscal 2019.

Conagra’s 44% stake in Ardent Mills is the same as Cargill’s. CHS, Inc. owns 8%. The joint venture was established in May 2014. Ardent Mills is the largest flour milling company in the United States.