Cargill sees substantial earnings slide

15 Jul 2019

Cargill has reported results for the fiscal 2019 fourth quarter and full year ended May 31, 2019. Adjusted operating earnings were $476 million, down 41% from the $809 million earned in last year’s record fourth quarter.

This brought earnings for the full fiscal year to $2.82 billion, 12% below last year’s top performance. Net earnings were $235 million, down 67% from $711 million in the strong comparative period. For the 12 months, net earnings decreased 17% to $2.56 billion. Fourth-quarter and full-year revenues each dipped 1% to $29.9 billion and $113.5 billion, respectively.

Cargill sees substantial earnings slide

“Throughout the year, we faced a very challenging global business environment that slowed earnings. Still, we improved performance in several food and financial businesses and significantly reduced costs companywide,” said Dave MacLennan, Cargill’s chairman and chief executive officer. In particular, he pointed to the North American protein business, which led earnings by combining strong demand for beef and eggs with consumer insights that helped customers win in local markets.

MacLennan said the company is focused on what it can best control: moving faster, raising efficiency, and creating innovative solutions for customers. “We want to accelerate growth in market segments where our expertise will help us create more value with our customers. Serving them inspires us to reach higher every day.”

Food Ingredients & Applications delivered mixed results across the segment. Starches and sweeteners trailed the year-ago quarter as improved sales volume in North America was offset by higher energy and raw material costs in Europe. Though ahead for the year, edible oils had a softer fourth quarter. Cocoa and chocolate edged out last year’s fourth quarter as strong performance in Europe was partially trimmed by lower sales volume and higher operating costs in North America. Sales of salts for food and water quality applications contributed to higher salt earnings in the fourth period. And the segment’s businesses in Asia saw improvement across several product lines.

As part of a strategy to grow in specialty ingredients, Cargill completed the acquisition of Belgian chocolate company Smet. In Brazil, Cargill is constructing a $150 million pectin plant in São Paulo state. Pectin is a versatile, citrus-based texturizer that has label-friendly applications in bakery, confectionery, dairy, and fruit juices and jams. The new facility, which complements Cargill’s pectin production capacity in France, Germany and Italy, is slated to start up in late 2021.

In Asia, Cargill opened a food and nutrition innovation center in Singapore, where customers can collaborate with Cargill food scientists and culinary specialists to create or reformulate foods and beverages to meet consumers’ changing preferences. The company also announced a $110 million expansion to its corn processing facility in China’s Jilin province, including an adjacent food safety and technology center being built in collaboration with the local government.

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