DECATUR, ILLINOIS, U.S. — Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) reported on May 1 net earnings for the quarter ended March 31 of $399 million, or 60¢ per share, a decrease of 31% from the same period a year ago.
Adjusted earnings per share, which excludes the impact of LIFO, restructuring costs and other adjustments, was 78¢ per share, 12% lower than the prior-year quarter. Segment operating profit was $887 million, down 12% from the year-ago quarter.
“This quarter, we delivered very good results despite difficult margin environments, particularly in ethanol and European oilseeds,” said ADM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Patricia Woertz. “The strong third quarter last year set a high bar, and this quarter represents a solid performance by the team.
“Looking ahead, planting is underway in North America, and we’re encouraged by the projected corn and soybean acreage. Meanwhile, we continue to leverage our global origination, processing and transportation network to deliver products to our customers and returns to our shareholders.”
Oilseeds Processing profit declined $117 million to $395 million primarily due to the absence of significant, favorable timing effects which benefited year-ago results.
Crushing and origination operating profit was $271 million. Improved results in North and South America significantly offset continued weakness in Europe. Tight South American crop supplies led to increased soybean meal exports from North America. And, in South America, favorable positioning and increased farmer selling led to good grain origination results.
Refining, packaging, biodiesel and other generated a profit of $75 million for the quarter, down $14 million on weaker biodiesel results from North and South America.
Oilseeds results in Asia for the quarter were up $31 million over the prior year’s third quarter, principally reflecting ADM’s share of the results from its equity investee Wilmar International Limited.
Corn Processing results decreased $74 million to $130 million as improved sweetener results were offset by poor ethanol margins. Sweeteners and starches operating profit increased $47 million to $93 million. Export demand for sweeteners remained strong, and average selling prices rose as new sweetener contracts came into effect through the quarter.
Bioproducts results in the quarter decreased $121 million to $37 million. Ethanol margins remained weak through the quarter, amid excess industry production that lessened through the quarter. Results also reflect a $14 million charge related to the closure of ADM’s 30-million-gallon-per-year ethanol dry mill at Walhalla, North Dakota, U.S.
Other businesses’ results were steady when excluding positive timing effects. Agricultural Services profit rose $8 million to $179 million, as lower North American grain exports were offset by improved international merchandising margins and volumes.
Merchandising and handling earnings were essentially flat. ADM’s Black Sea and other international merchandising operations saw good volumes and margins, while North American grain export volumes were down due to low U.S. crop inventories. Earnings from transportation operations rose $7 million.
Worldwide demand for crops and agricultural products continues to grow at a stable rate. Global supplies of corn and soybeans should tighten until the North American harvest. As the South American harvest is coming into the market, U.S. oilseed processing rates and soybean meal exports are returning to seasonal levels. Depressed U.S. ethanol margins have slowed industry production, improving alignment of supply and demand. U.S. corn wet milling demand remains strong, led by sweetener exports.