U.S. agricultural commodities trader Cargill Inc said on Thursday its profit rose 8 percent, boosted by stronger results in food ingredients and grain handling which offset losses in its beef, oil and shipping businesses.
But lower commodity prices and a weak dollar dragged down revenue.
Minneapolis-based Cargill said net earnings totaled $459 million for the quarter ended Feb. 29, up from $425 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue fell 11 percent to $25.2 billion.
Revenues for agribusinesses like Cargill typically decline when commodity prices are low, as they currently are. The companies' input costs also decline, allowing them to turn profits despite the downturn.
The company noted headwinds from the toughest agriculture and energy markets in years. Massive global grain stocks may keep prices and volatility low, Chief Executive David MacLennan said.
"Barring weather events, we don't anticipate a near-term improvement in market conditions for agriculture. In these kinds of cycles, and we've been through them before, we focus on the levers under our control," he said in a statement.
Adjusted operating earnings, which exclude one-time items such as gains or losses from sales of long-term assets, climbed 13 percent to $476 million.
The company noted gains from the sales of its U.S. pork business and a 50 percent stake in an Ohio steel mill last year and a charge related to currency moves in Venezuela.
Privately held Cargill said its food and ingredients unit outperformed last year's weak third quarter, noting stronger profits in edible oils, sweeteners and other ingredients.
Origination and processing earnings also increased, despite low grain prices and plentiful global stocks. An increase in corn shipments from Argentina after its newly elected government enacted export reforms partly offset a slowdown in U.S. marketings, Cargill said.
But struggles in the company's beef business dragged down earnings in its animal nutrition and protein unit as a strong dollar dented U.S. exports while cheap pork and poultry weakened retail demand.
Cargill's industrial and financial services segment saw profit fall for a third straight quarter as record-low ocean freight costs hurt transportation results and low crude oil prices dented its energy trading unit.