ADM Profit Soars on Higher Prices; Shares Jump

Archer Daniels Midland, one of the largest U.S. food processors and ethanol producers, reported sharply higher quarterly profit Tuesday, helped by higher selling prices and an accounting change.

Agriculture and fertilizer stocks have been especially hard hit by the credit crisis as investors worry that slower economic growth will reduce demand for raw materials such as grains and oilseeds.

Archer Daniels, whose shares have plunged 57 percent since April, were up nearly 15 percent in premarket trading.

ADM , the world's largest producer of high-fructose corn syrup, said net income jumped to $1.05 billion, or $1.63 per share, in the first quarter that ended Sept. 30, from $441 million, or 68 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 69 cents per share, excluding items, according to Reuters Estimates.

It was not immediately clear if that figure was comparable with reported net income.

Rival Bunge , the world's largest oilseed processor that reported earnings last month, missed Wall Street's expectations by about 50 percent due mostly to foreign currency exchange rates.

ADM does not have the same international exposure.

The company said it benefited from a change in inventory valuations and a lower tax rate.

Net sales rose 65 percent to $21.16 billion, as sales volumes were comparable, but selling prices were much higher due to sharp rises in underlying commodity costs.

Profit rose in the company's oilseeds processing and agricultural services segments, but fell in its corn processing segment, due to sharply higher corn and energy costs.

Grain prices soared to record highs earlier this year on crop problems and rising demand, but then plummeted this autumn as part of a general sell-off in commodities amid worries about a global recession.

Corn and soybeans at the Chicago Board of Trade are down nearly 50 percent from record highs and wheat is down nearly 60 percent.

On Oct. 30, ADM's export elevator in Destrehan, Louisiana, was damaged by a grain dust explosion.

It is the largest of four export elevators at the Mississippi Gulf operated by ADM.

Shares of ADM, based in Decatur, Illinois, rose $3.14 to $24.25 in premarket trading.