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ADM Earnings Fall Sharply As Impact of 2012 Drought Felt

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Archer Daniels Midland, which operations in southwest Cedar Rapids, on Wednesday reported sharply lower first-quarter earnings as the company's agricultural services unit was affected by the ongoing effects of last summer's drought.

The Decatur, Ill., agribusiness giant posted net earnings $269 million, or 41 cents per share, for the quarter that ended on March 31, down from $399 million, or 60 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2012. Sales increased to $21.7 billion in the first quarter from $21.2 billion in the comparable period last year.

ADM said oilseeds processing profit declined $229 million due to significantly lower results from cocoa caused by industry margin pressures and weaker South American origination results. Corn Processing profit increased $20 million due to improved ethanol results.

Sweeteners and starches results were negatively impacted by a $44 million pretax charge from corn hedge timing effects, and agricultural services profit decreased $110 million as U.S. origination volumes declined.

ADM Chairwoman and CEO Patricia Woertz said the company worked its way through a "challenging" quarter.

"In oilseeds, our earnings were reduced by challenges in Brazil and depressed margins in cocoa," Woertz said. "Our ethanol business improved as declining inventories supported overall industry margins, and we began to see positive results from the actions we've been taking to improve the profitability of that business."

ADM produces corn-based sweeteners and ethanol at its Cedar Rapids facilities. The company has more than 265 processing plant and 460 crop purchasing facilities worldwide.

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