Archer Daniels Midland Earnings Up Sharply on Ethanol Sales

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Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE: ADM) reported third-quarter 2014 earnings Tuesday. The agribusiness giant posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.81 on revenues of $18.12 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.47 on revenues of $21.39 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.73 and $21.19 billion in revenues.

The company did not offer guidance in its earnings release, but the consensus estimates for the fourth quarter of 2014 call for EPS of $0.94 on revenues of $24.34 billion. For the full year, analysts expect EPS of $3.01 on revenues of $88.16 billion.

As was the case in the second quarter, profits are rising and revenues are not. In the company’s three major segments, revenues fell in each one, with oilseeds processing down $1.36 billion, corn processing down $497 million and agricultural services down $1.47 billion. Operating profits were essentially flat in the oilseeds division, nearly double in corn processing at $356 million and up $57 million in agricultural services.

Operationally, ethanol profits rose $113 million to $185 million. Operating profits for sweeteners and starches rose by $63 million to $171 million. These two items are really responsible for the company’s profit showing. ADM better hope that ethanol prices and sales don’t begin to slide.

The company’s CEO said:

The team delivered very strong results in the third quarter and made significant progress improving earnings and returns. … We also continued to advance our portfolio management. Since the beginning of the third quarter, we signed a deal to sell our global chocolate business; we reached an agreement to acquire Specialty Commodities Incorporated; and we completed our acquisition of WILD Flavors.

ADM has repurchased 18 million shares of its common stock and expects to repurchase another 10 million by the end of this year.

ADM’s shares were down fractionally in Tuesday’s premarket, at $47.20 in a 52-week range of $37.92 to $52.36. The consensus price target for the shares was around $52.70 before the report.

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