U.S. agricultural processor Archer Daniels Midland Co reported higher third quarter earnings on Tuesday on strong results from its corn and oilseed processing segments.
But volatile commodities prices, instability in the Middle East and Africa, and challenges resulting from a severe earthquake and tsunami in Japan weighed on the company's agricultural services business. Its shares were down 2.8 percent in premarket trading.
ADM said on Tuesday crop shortages in some areas of the world led to highly volatile grain and oilseed prices and that demand for crops and agricultural goods continues to rise.
But it warned about the impact of elevated energy prices and global instability.
Overall global economic conditions are being impacted by significant geopolitical developments, rising energy costs and evolving monetary and fiscal policies. These elements have the potential to temper global economic growth, ADM said in a release.
ADM, based in Decatur, Illinois, is one of the largest processors of corn and soybeans in the world and among the top ethanol producers in the United States.
For the fiscal third-quarter ended March 31, ADM reported net earnings of $578 million, or 86 cents per share, matching the average analyst estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
In the same quarter a year ago, ADM earned a net $421 million, or 65 cents per share.
Quarterly revenue rose to $20.1 billion, topping analyst expectations for $17.7 billion.
Oilseeds processing profit jumped 26 percent to $512 million, helped by strong results in its North American elevators and processing plants and its refining, packaging and biodiesel operations in the Americas, ADM said.
Profit in ADM's corn processing segment, which includes its ethanol and sweeteners businesses, nearly doubled to $204 million.
Corn processing volume rose 13 percent, helped by accelerating production at two recently build ethanol plants and strong demand for corn-based sweeteners and feed ingredients.
Profit at the company's agricultural services division rose by $6 million to $171 million, tempered by volatile commodities markets, regional instability in the Middle East and Africa, and logistical problems in Japan, a top importer.
The company's other business units, including wheat milling and cocoa operations, generated a net profit of $119 million, up from $22 million a year earlier.
ADM shares were down 2.8 percent at $36.50 in light premarket trading. Its shares are up more than 23 percent this year.
(Reporting by Karl Plume; Editing by Derek Caney)