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Cargill Earnings Boosted By Big U.S. Crop Harvest


By Christine Stebbins

CHICAGO, Jan 9 (Reuters) - U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill Inc on Thursday reported a 36 percent rise in quarterly profit, supported by a bigger U.S. crop harvest in 2013 that led to lower grain prices and boosted profit margins on meat sales.

Minneapolis-based Cargill, a top global commodities trader, reported net earnings of $556 million for the second quarter ended Nov. 30, up from $409 million a year ago.

Revenues slid 7 percent from a year ago to $32.9 billion.

"Earnings improved in three of our four segments," said Cargill's new CEO David MacLennan, who took over to lead the multinational after Greg Page stepped down on Dec. 1.

Cargill, the top exporter of U.S. grain and oilseeds, benefited from replenished grain supplies following a bumper U.S. corn and soybean harvest after the 2012 drought. This boosted export prospects and grain processing volumes and also improved profits in its meat and ethanol businesses.

"The impact on supply and demand caused prices for agricultural commodities to come down from last year's highs, providing relief to Cargill's animal nutrition and protein segment," the company said in a statement. "Larger export volumes and increased operating efficiencies also contributed to stronger results, especially in beef processing."