US agribusiness ADM withstood droughts, higher raw material prices and tougher market conditions to post a lift in profits for the first quarter, in sharp comparison to competitor Bunge who announced a fall in earnings last week.
First quarter net earnings for Archers Daniels Midland came in at $.23 per share on the back of $150 million in profits, a 39 per cent rise on $108 million in profits and $.17 per share posted last year.
Bunge, by contrast, saw profits fall from $95 million, or $0.95 in earnings for the quarter ended 30 September in 2002, to $89 million and diluted earnings of $0.88 in 2003.
Sales jumped to $8.27 billion from $6.94 billion a year earlier as the processor of corn, soybeans, wheat and cocoa said improved corn and wheat processing and agricultural services results helped offset a decline in its oilseeds processing business.
ADM's cocoa, bioproducts and equity investment sectors also showed considerable strength, the company said.
Oilseed processing results were knocked down by 11 per cent to $68 million from $76 million despite improved results in the South American and Asian markets which went some way to offsetting reduced crush margins in North America and Europe.
"Market conditions improved across many of our business segments this quarter. Operating profits demonstrated solid increases despite the challenges of dealing with last year's North American drought," said CEO G. Allen Andreas.