Agribusiness conglomerate Cargill Inc. (search) Tuesday reported an 18 percent increase in quarterly profit, helped by strength in its grains, meat and food ingredient segments.

Cargill, the largest private U.S. company, whose business spans grain and crude oil trading, meat processing and fertilizer production, said net income rose to $230 million in the fiscal fourth quarter ended May 31, from $195 million a year earlier.

Cargill spokeswoman Lisa Clemens said strong revenue growth from across the company's businesses boosted earnings.

However, she declined toended May 31, Cargill posted a net income of $2.1 billion, including a $578 million gain tied to the merger of Cargill Crop Nutrition and IMC Global (search) to form farm chemicals maker Mosaic Co. (search) last year.

Excluding the gain, full year profit rose 15 percent to $1.53 billion from $1.33 billion a year earlier.

Fiscal 2005 revenue rose 13 percent to $71.1 billion, and cash flow from operations increased 7 percent to $3.2 billion, the Minneapolis-based company said in a statement.

Cargill does not report quarterly revenue figures.

It said contributors to full-year earnings included gains from such businesses as animal feed, beef, egg product, pork and poultry businesses, risk management, food ingredients in Europe, and financial and global supply chain management segments.

Cargill said the year just ended was one of expansion, especially in the emerging markets. It said it is expanding its oilseed operations in Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.

But besides expanding, Cargill said it also bought several businesses, including cocoa processing facilities in England and Germany, and a chocolate plant in Germany.

It said it also bought Seara, a leading poultry and pork business in Brazil, and became the sole owner of Finexcor, an Argentine beef processor and exporter.