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MINNEAPOLIS - Cargill Inc., America's largest private company, today said net quarterly earnings rose 11 percent as strong demand for beef helped offset the negative impact from the first case of mad cow disease reported in the U.S.
The agricultural conglomerate said earnings from continuing operations were $1.12 billion, up 25 percent from $902 million a year ago. An additional $13 million from discontinued operations brought Cargill's nine-month net earnings to $1.14 billion. Last year's net earnings of $1.15 billion included $247 million from discontinued operations and a required change in goodwill accounting.
"In a quarter filled with challenging developments in the grain and oilseeds, meat and poultry, ocean freight and energy markets, Cargill delivered a solid performance," said Warren Staley, chairman and c.e.o. "Our team did a terrific job managing the changing supply-and-demand equation in the commodity markets, particularly the increased volatility and tighter supplies that accompanied the demand-led rise in raw material costs," he added.
Animal health concerns also were also cited by Staley as a major factor, with export markets for beef and poultry closed or curtailed during much of the three-month period by the emergence of avian influenza in Asia and a single reported case of BSE in the U.S.
"Parts of Cargill's meat processing, animal nutrition, and feed grain and vegetable protein import operations were negatively affected," Staley said, noting that the overall impact was tempered "by our team's swift response to the situation, continued firm demand domestically for U.S. beef, and the offsetting benefits provided by our company's diversified business mix."