Cargill Inc. is giving outsiders a slightly better idea of its financial performance.
With the release of its fiscal first-quarter results on Wednesday, the agribusiness processor and trader showed the extent that the way it accounts for inventory and hedging can affect its bottom line.
Its net profit for the June-to-August quarter was 20 percent higher than it was a year ago, but its operating profit, which is adjusted for accounting conventions and one-time events, was essentially flat.
Cargill revealed the detail, a normal practice for publicly traded companies, for the first time with its March-to-May results earlier this year. This latest quarterly announcement showed that Cargill, which is one of the nation’s largest privately owned companies, has decided to keep up such disclosure.
It’s another crack of the window at a company still owned by descendants of its founding families and that for decades said nothing about its performance despite its growing size. Cargill began disclosing quarterly results in 1992.
For the three months ended Aug. 31, Cargill said its net profit amounted to $512 million, up from $425 million a year ago. Its adjusted operating profit was $611 million, down slightly from $619 million.
Revenue was $27.5 billion, down about 17 percent from $33.3 billion a year ago.
Cargill’s bottom line a year ago was hurt by a loss related to timing differences in the accounting of inventory, derivatives and hedging, a volatile factor for any company involved in trading and moving large volumes of commodities. This year, Cargill also incurred a loss in that accounting, though it was considerably smaller.
The company’s largest business, in grain origination and processing, experienced a slight increase in operating profits and was the only one of Cargill’s major units to see such a jump.
“Cargill posted a productive start to the new fiscal year, led by solid performance globally in grain and oilseeds processing and animal nutrition,” David MacLennan, Cargill’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
Cargill’s food ingredients business, which tends to be the next-biggest contributor to profits, reported a slightly lower operating profit from 2014. It was hurt by low sugar prices in Europe that dented the performance of starches and sweeteners there as well as low oil prices in North America, which narrowed margins on corn-based ethanol.
The operating profit of Cargill’s animal nutrition and protein segment also fell. An improved performance in animal nutrition products was offset by lower earnings in animal protein, the company said.