updated 5/2/2006 9:11:06 AM ET 2006-05-02T13:11:06

Archer Daniels Midland Co., one of the world's largest agriculture processors, said Tuesday its fiscal third-quarter earnings rose 29 percent, driven by an increase in demand for processed oilseeds and corn byproducts such as ethanol.

Net income jumped to $347.8 million, or 53 cents per share, for the three months ended March 31 well ahead of the 46 cents a share expected by analysts polled by Thomson Financial. A year ago, earnings were $269.1 million, or 41 cents per share, including a gain of $74 million, or 11 cents per share, related to the sale of an equity stake.

Sales climbed 8 percent to $9.12 billion from $8.48 billion last year. Wall Street expected $8.67 billion.

Operating profit jumped 46 percent to $549 million. Profit from oilseeds _ or any number of seeds such as rapeseed and cottonseed that can be processed to produce vegetable oil _ nearly tripled to $177 million.

In electronic premarket trading, Archer-Daniels-Midland shares rose $1.01, or 2.7 percent, to $39.01. The stock has moved between $18 and $39.01 in the past year.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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