Cargill 1Q profit soars but cautions on drought


WAYZATA, Minn. -- Agribusiness company Cargill said on Thursday that its first-quarter profit nearly quadrupled to $975 million. Last year's quarter was hurt by big swings in commodity prices.

Still, the Minneapolis company said the impact of the U.S. drought and weather in other crop-growing areas such as the Black Sea region "is still unfolding." The drought, which has sent prices for grains such as corn and wheat surging higher, is pushing international buyers to get their materials outside the U.S., Cargill said.

As a result, it said North American grain-handling volumes for exports will be lower than it had expected before the drought, and its livestock business might face challenges. Corn is a key ingredient in feed, so higher corn prices mean higher costs for livestock companies.

The company is involved in almost all aspects of agribusiness, from raising livestock to processing and shipping crops and food ingredients. It said profits rose in all five of its business units in the quarter ended Aug. 31.

In the same period last year, profit came to $236 million.

Revenue fell 2 percent to $33.8 billion from $34.6 billion a year ago.

Cargill is privately held, so it doesn't report its results with the same level of detail as publicly traded firms.