Cargill Inc. said Thursday that fourth-quarter earnings were not up to expectations, dropping 82 percent compared with a year ago.
Minnetonka-based Cargill, one of the world's largest privately held companies, posted profits of $73 million. Revenue for the quarter was $34 billion, down 2 percent.
"We did not trade as well in this year's markets, which were driven as much by the economic and political environment as by the fundamentals," CEO Greg Page said in a statement. "Cyclical trends in the global soybean processing and North American beef industries also were in play, decreasing margins in parts of Cargill's oilseed processing and beef processing operations."
Cargill has spent the year realigning its cost structure and simplifying work processes, saying it has cut expenses by more than $400 million as a result.
In December, the company announced a rare mass layoff, cutting up to 2,000 people or 1.5 percent of its global workforce.
Page said there were "notable exceptions" of strength during the quarter ending May 31, including its 26-unit food group, which delivered record earnings for the third straight year.
The company paid about $2 billion to buy the animal nutrition company, Provimi, which has 16,000 employees and 250 facilities around the world. That purchase accounted for about half of the company's capital budget for the year.
Cargill's food ingredients and applications businesses continue to drive annual profits, with strong worldwide demand for sweeteners, starches, specialty oils and cocoa.
For the year, Cargill reported $1.17 billion in profits, a drop of 56 percent from a year ago. Revenue was up 12 percent, to $133.9 billion.
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