The "high-degree of uncertainty" in global markets has hit Cargill, the world’s largest agricultural commodities trader, with the family business reporting a 66% fall in net profits during the last quarter.
Minneapolis-based Cargill, controlled by the Cargill and MacMillan families, said that in the first quarter of its 2012 fiscal year, which ended on 31 August, net profits decreased to $236 million (€173 million) from $693 million during the same period of 2011.
However, the company said last year’s first-quarter results included $190 million in earnings from Mosaic, a fertiliser company Cargill sold its stake in last January.
Overall, revenues at Cargill were up, with first-quarter 2012 revenues rising 34% to $34.6 billion.
"It was a tough quarter," said Greg Page, Cargill chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement released on 10 October. He blamed the “persistently high degree of uncertainty in the global economic environment, which injected turbulence into commodity markets and limited prudent trading opportunities" for the decrease in profits.
Out of Cargill’s five business segments, only its agriculture services division reported a rise in profit, buoyed by crop input sales related to weather-delayed plantings and increased demand for grain handling, storage and marketing services in North America.
All the other units, from food ingredients and applications segment to the risk management and financial division, reported a worse performance than a year earlier.
Cargill was founded nearly 150 years ago by William Wallace Cargill. The family still controls 90% of the company.