By Karl Plume and Ruhi Soni
(Reuters) -Global grain trader Archer-Daniels-Midland Co reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday on higher demand from importing nations amid reduced harvests in key breadbasket regions and global food supply concerns after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Chicago-based ADM said tight grain inventories would persist “for the next few years” and forecast 2022 profit would top the company’s record performance last year.
Shares rose 3.5% in premarket trading.
ADM’s results highlighted how global grains merchants have weathered surging inflation and supply chain disruptions caused by the war. Ukraine and Russia supply nearly a third of world wheat exports, a fifth of globally traded corn and 80% of sunflower oil.
“We expect reduced crop supplies – caused by the weak Canadian canola crop, the short South American crops, and now the disruptions in the Black Sea region – to drive continued tightness in global grain markets for the next few years,” Chief Executive Officer Juan Luciano said.
Grain supply chain middlemen like ADM and rivals Bunge Ltd, Cargill Inc and Louis Dreyfus Co, known as the ABCDs of global grain, tend to thrive when crises such as droughts or war trigger shortages in parts of the world.
Operating profit in ADM’s Ag Services and Oilseeds segment, its largest in terms of revenue, jumped 30% in the quarter on strong trading results and improved oilseed processing margins in every geography apart from China.
In Carbohydrate Solutions, which includes corn processing and ethanol, operating profit was up 20%. Nutrition unit profit rose 23%.
Net earnings attributable to ADM jumped 53% to $1.05 billion, or $1.86 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from a year ago.
Excluding items, the company earned $1.90 per share, beating Wall Street expectations of $1.41, as per Refinitiv data.
Revenue rose by about a quarter to $23.65 billion, above analysts’ average estimate of $20.80 billion.
(Reporting by Ruhi Soni in Bengaluru and Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Maju Samuel and Bernadette Baum)