Courtesy: Archer Daniels Midland
By Erika Fry
February 3, 2015

Near perfect harvest conditions helped lift Archer Daniels Midland’s profits in the fourth quarter, the company announced today. Earnings before taxes in quarter surged nearly 60%, to $996 million, up from $623 million in the same quarter of 2013—while diluted earnings per share nearly doubled, to $1.08.

Though the company’s revenues slipped $3.2 billion from the period in the previous year, the agricultural conglomerate was buoyed by the strong performance of its agricultural services division, which covers ADM’s milling, merchandising and transportation businesses. “Strong results will continue as the massive U.S. harvest continues to filter through financial results,” wrote Morningstar’s Jeffrey Stafford in an analyst note. “But we don’t think the outsize ag services profits will last forever. Weather fluctuations probably won’t lead to bumper crops year after year.”

Away from the headlines, ADM, which ranked No. 27—its all-time high—on the Fortune 500 in 2014 with $90 billion in revenues, has reach into lives that few other corporations have. As the world’s largest corn processor and the first of the ABCD’s—the four giant companies (along with Bunge, Cargill, and Louis Dreyfus) that dominate the global commodities trade—ADM’s fingerprints are all over the world’s food supply, from the elevators that store grain and the barges that transport it; to the tons of fishmeal, animal feed, and human food ingredients it produces each year. Though corn and oilseed (mostly soybeans) processing make up the bulk of ADM’s business, its activities are far more complex, wide-ranging and unfamiliar to global consumers. Here are eight things you may not know about this 113-year-old company.

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