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Jan 26 (Reuters) - U.S. agribusiness Archer Daniels Midland Co reported a 36% jump in fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday on strong soy processing margins and solid exports, particularly to China.
The company projected further profit growth in the year ahead, led by its core agricultural services and oilseeds unit amid growing global demand for food and feed as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.
“We expect the global demand environment for Ag Services and Oilseeds to remain strong. China should continue to be a significant buyer,” Chief Executive Juan Luciano said.
ADM shares, which hit a record high last week, were down about 1.7% at midmorning.
ADM’s results offered the latest look into how the pandemic is impacting the world’s largest grain traders.
Despite massive shifts in food and fuel demand as people avoided unnecessary travel and made more meals at home, ADM and rival agribusinesses Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus - known as the ABCD quartet of grain trading giants - have weathered the pandemic unexpectedly well.
Grain merchants have gained despite rising prices for crops they buy from farmers to store, transport and process.
A record U.S. soybean crush, strong soy processing margins and high U.S. crop exports, including record-large corn sales to China, boosted ADM’s core agricultural services and oilseeds unit, its largest in terms of revenue.
ADM’s carbohydrate solutions segment gained as pandemic-related consumer demand for hand sanitizer and flour for baking at home offset weak ethanol margins.
Net earnings attributable to ADM rose to $687 million, or $1.22 per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, from $504 million, or 90 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, ADM earned $1.21 per share, beating analysts’ average estimate of $1.10, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
Revenue climbed 10.1% to $17.98 billion, beating expectations for $16.48 billion. (Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago and Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Susan Fenton and Marguerita Choy)