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Cargill reports strong fourth quarter results but overall annual decline

Cargill, the world's largest agribusiness company, more than doubled its fourth quarter net earnings compared to the same period in 2009, but still saw an overall decline in annual revenues. 

The US-based business reported its fourth quarter and annual results on 17 August, recording net earnings of $691 million for the final quarter of the company's financial year, compared with $327 million a year ago. However, annual earnings for the year ending 31 May 2010 dropped to $2.6 billion from $3.3 billion in 2009. 

According to the company statement, all five of Cargill's business segments increased earnings in the fourth quarter. Results were lifted by lower raw materials costs and a large North American crop harvest, said Cargill.

Although Cargill does not release detailed financial results for its business segments, the company highlighted its 64% holding in fertiliser maker Mosaic Company as an area that had performed badly last year, but gave no further information.

Despite the fourth quarter rise in earnings, Cargill remains cautious about the recovery. "More uncertainty lies ahead, for the world has yet to transform from a policy-stimulated upturn to a structurally sustained recovery," the company said in its annual report.

Greg Page, Cargill's non-family chairman and CEO, stressed that the company will continue its global expansion plans throughout the next year. "Over the past year, we opened 17 new and expanded facilities of significant scale, including joint ventures. Fifteen more projects are underway. This represents a global, multiyear investment of more than $1.1 billion," he said in the statement announcing the results.

Cargill was founded in 1865 by William Wallace Cargill. The company employs 131,000 people across 66 countries and is still privately owned by the founding family. 

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