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Cargill reports profit over US$1 billion

Agriculture giant Cargill Inc. reported fiscal fourth-quarter net profit of $1.05 billion (U.S.), driven by its global grain transportation unit and the sale of a power plant in the United Kingdom.

The company said profit from operations rose 18 per cent to $744 million in the period from $628 million a year earlier amid demand for grains like soybeans and corn, which hit all-time highs this year. Cargill buys grain from farmers, ships it to foreign and domestic markets and processes it into food ingredients and other products. Fourth-quarter net income was padded by the $310 million sale of the gas-powered turbine plant, Teesside Power Ltd.

Cargill's investment in the fertilizer market also drove profit. In 2004 the company became a majority shareholder of the publicly traded fertilizer-maker Mosaic Co. The company's stock more than tripled during Cargill's 2008 fiscal year alone, rising from $30 a share to $125 a share in May. It closed at $103.50 yesterday.

For the full fiscal year, Cargill earned $3.64 billion from continuing operations, a 55 per cent increase from $2.34 billion a year ago. The $310 million gain on the sale of discontinued operations in the fourth quarter brought fiscal 2008 net earnings to $3.95 billion. Revenue rose 36 per cent to $120.4 billion. Cash flow from operations increased 77 per cent to $7 billion.

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