Archer Daniels Plows Past Views

Shares of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) climbed early Tuesday after the agricultural processor topped third-quarter earnings estimates, helped by soaring prices.

The Decatur, Ill., company reported a third-quarter profit of $441 million, or 68 cents a share, up from $403 million, or 61 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $12.83 billion from $9.45 billion the prior year.

The results handily beat analysts' average forecast for earnings of 59 cents a share and sales of $10.64 billion.

Sales benefited from sharply higher commodity prices, which lifted selling prices. ADM said increased selling prices accounted for about 75% of its sales increase, while the remainder was due to higher volumes, mainly in vegetable oil and wheat.

Among ADM's segments, growth in the oilseeds processing and agricultural services segment helped offset a profit decline in its corn processing division. ADM -- a top producer of ethanol, a fuel derived from corn -- said the 12% drop in the division's profits reflected lower ethanol sales prices, higher corn costs and tough comparisons from year-ago strength.

Profits in oilseeds processing rose 23% amid improved margins, ADM said. In agricultural services, earnings nearly doubled due to higher grain merchandising and handling results.

Shares of ADM jumped $2.06, or 6%, to $36.58 in early trading Tuesday.

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