USA – Ardent Mills LLC has posted improved income and financial results in the second quarter following a weak first quarter, based on a Securities Exchange Commission filing by Conagra Brands, Inc.

According to the Form 10-Q filed Jan. 3, equity method investment earnings of Conagra in the second quarter ended Nov. 25 were US$37.7 million, up from US$20.6 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2018.

The quarterly results included a US$15.1 million gain (US$11.6 million after taxes) from the sale of an asset by the Ardent Mills joint venture.

For the first half of fiscal 2019, Conagra’s equity method investment earnings were US$53.9 million, up from US$50.6 million.

Commenting on the financial results, Conagra said “improved operational efficiencies and market conditions” accounted for the better second-quarter performance.

Adjusted for the asset sales, year-to-date earnings were significantly lower than in the first half of fiscal 2018.

The company did not elaborate on the gain from the asset sale.

Ardent in October said it was selling its Tampa, Florida, U.S., flour mill and would build a new mill in Florida.

Local media reports in Florida last October said Ardent Mills had agreed to sell the mill to developers for about US$13 million and that the city of Tampa was paying Ardent Mils US$2.25 million in exchange for the company to give up certain rail rights.

Conagra holds a 44% stake in Denver-based Ardent Mills, which is a joint venture of Conagra, Cargill and CHS.

In the first quarter ended August 2018, lower earnings at Ardent Mills pushed equity method investment earnings of Conagra Brands, Inc. downward.

Conagra said its equity method investment earnings were US$16.2 million in the period, down 46% from US$30 million in the same period in fiscal 2018.

Ardent Mills partnered Arcadia Bioscience to develop innovative wheat varieties with plans to commercialize the same.

In the period under review, Conagra Brands completed the acquisition of Pinnacle Foods which helped grow net sales by 9.7% in the quarter.

Diluted earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations decreased from US$0.54 to US$0.32 in the quarter, and adjusted diluted EPS from continuing operations grew 21.8% from US$0.55 to US$0.67.