"Though we look back on a year in which overall earnings fell short of expectations, we realized stronger operating results in several businesses including a turnaround in our global beef operations,” said David MacLennan, president and chief executive officer. “We also made good progress on moves designed to sharpen efficiency and support profitable growth in fiscal 2015 and beyond."
Earnings rose significantly in Animal Nutrition & Protein in the fourth quarter and full year. Results in animal nutrition were up for the full year, reflecting the positive impact of recent years' acquisitions and a product and service mix that met the diverse needs of customers. However, Q4 earnings were below the year-ago level due to a loss resulting from adjustments to the balance sheet to account for Venezuela's effective currency exchange rates.
Meanwhile, performance in animal protein was led by the beef business, which was boosted by increased operating efficiency, good cattle feeding results in North America and brisk exports of Australian beef. US pork operations increased on improved live production and processing efficiency plus steady demand. Poultry operations in Central America, Europe and Thailand posted higher earnings in both periods on a combined basis.
Cargill will celebrate its 150th year in business in 2015. "Our company has a long history of doing business ethically and safely, nurturing top talent, managing risk, learning from setbacks and breaking new ground,” MacLennan said. “It makes us optimistic about our ability to excel, to help customers thrive and to be the global leader in nourishing people."