USA – Cargill, an American provider of food, industrial and agricultural products, has reported US$3.2 billion in adjusted operating earnings for the 2018 fiscal year, one of its best performances.

According to the company, its improved financial results over the past two years are the outcome of significant efforts by its teams to redefine how Cargill operates.

Key results for the quarter and fiscal year ended May 31, 2018, included adjusted operating earnings totalling at US$809 million, a 76 percent jump from US$460 million a year ago in the fourth quarter.

The net earnings on a U.S. GAAP basis were US$711 million, more than double last year’s US$347 million and revenues increased 7 percent to US$30.4 billion.

For the full year, the adjusted operating earnings reached US$3.2 billion, up 6 percent from last year’s strong comparative of US$3.04 billion.

The net earnings equaled US$3.1 billion, a 9 percent increase and the third straight year of improved performance on a U.S. GAAP basis.

The company added that both adjusted and net earnings included a provisional net charge of US$86 million related to the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted in December 2017.

This represents a decrease from the estimate provided in the company’s third-quarter release, where the revenues grew 5 percent to US$114.7 billion and cash flow from operations increased 11 percent to US$5.22 billion.

“Our strong results show we are creating the connections the world needs for vibrant food and agriculture both today and tomorrow,” said David MacLennan, Cargill’s chairman and chief executive officer.

“Cargill has always moved food from where it is produced to where it is needed. Today, we are pioneering new capabilities and partnerships to invest for the future. We are innovating alongside our customers to develop healthy, delicious products made the way consumers want.

We are working with farmers and others to implement sustainable agricultural practices.

And we are standing up for inclusive global trade that lets food move freely.”

Animal Nutrition & Protein segment surpassed last year’s strong results, making the segment the largest contributor to Cargill’s adjusted operating earnings in the fourth quarter and the full year.

The protein business delivered an exceptional performance, fueled by rising domestic and export demand for North American beef and steady expansion in value-added egg products.

In animal nutrition, Cargill acquired U.S.-based Diamond V and invested in Austria-based Delacon; they are the respective leaders in improving animal health through fermentation- and plant-based feed additives.

The segment purchased Integral Animal Nutrition, a Brazilian producer of cattle mineral feeds. In the U.S., it bought Pro-Pet, a private-label pet food maker, and the animal feed business of Southern States Cooperative.

Across Asia, it added to its existing network of feed mills and opened technical application centers supporting aqua nutrition in India and Vietnam.

It also invested in Dublin-based Cainthus, an animal facial recognition startup, and broadened its farm management software offerings; both will give farmers a digital boost to their productivity and profitability.

Earnings in Food Ingredients & Applications rose for the third consecutive year, with outstanding performance in cocoa and chocolate, gains in Asia-based ingredients and global edible oils, and steady earnings across global starches and sweeteners.

The segment’s sustained attention to operating efficiency and commercial excellence also contributed to the year’s growth.

Lower ethanol prices and higher plant maintenance expenses in a few product lines contributed to a small decrease in profitability during the fourth quarter.

Increased sales volume in salts for food and water softening was more than offset in both periods by lower sales prices for road salt and higher freight costs.

Segment growth initiatives in fiscal 2018 included a joint venture with Minneapolis-based Puris to serve rising demand for plant-based proteins.

Cargill also reported that it brought several new ingredients to market, including a high oleic canola oil with the lowest-ever level of saturated fat; EverSweet zero-calorie sweetener; and the SimPure line of high-performing native starches.

It also added low-sodium processing capacity to its salt plant in New York.

In Brazil, the company launched Liza Origens soy cooking oil, which carries its innovative Triple S (Sustainably Sourced & Supplied) certification.

In the fourth quarter, Cargill purchased an additional 40 percent equity stake in Glucovil Argentina, bringing its ownership in the starches and sweeteners joint venture to 70 percent.

Origination & Processing exceeded last year’s quarterly and annual results, putting up its best fourth quarter in seven years.

For most of fiscal 2018, rising demand for grains and oilseeds was muted by big crops, building stocks and low market volatility.

Through investments in technology, the segment is better connecting its global operations and supply chains, strengthening its trading and analytical edge, and bringing greater insight to customers.

During the year, it broke ground on a new biodiesel facility in Kansas, and expanded and modernized several oilseed processing plants in Brazil and the U.S.

As fiscal 2019 began, it formed a joint venture to meet increasing demand for soybean meal and oil in Egypt.

Industrial & Financial Services finished the fiscal year slightly below the prior year, with lower returns from fund investments and a softer fourth quarter overall.

Cargill’s risk management and trade finance activities, which were added to the segment at the start of the fiscal year, jointly posted higher earnings in both periods. Trading results in metals rose appreciably for the year, supported by the segment’s focus on market insights and analytics.

Cargill’s energy and U.S. steel processing businesses were sold in the first seven months, completing the segment reorganization.