Archer-Daniels Profits Rise 20%, Helped By Ethanol Demand

Archer-Daniels Midland , the nation's largest food processor, said its second-quarter profit rose 20%, driven in large part by a jump in corn-processing profit.

Net income in the second quarter ended Dec. 31 climbed to $441.3 million, or 67 cents a share, from $367.7 million, or 56 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 18% to $10.98 billion from $9.3 billion a year ago.

The results topped Wall Street's expectations. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected a profit of 60 cents per share on $9.52 billion in revenue.

"We are particularly pleased with the strong performance from all segments," ADM Chief Executive Officer and President Patricia Woertz said.

The Decatur-based company is also the country's largest producer of the fuel additive ethanol, made from corn.

ADM's corn-processing business, which includes its ethanol production, had a particularly strong quarter. Operating profit increased 42% from a year earlier to $335 million.

Strong prices for both ethanol and corn-based sweetener helped those results, according to ADM, but they were somewhat offset by high corn prices. Demand for ethanol has driven corn prices up in recent months.

The company held a conference call at 9am New York time.