The Illinois-based firm, that sells a range of ingredients from vegetable oils to starches, said earnings rose to $517 million, or 80 cents per share, in the third quarter ended March 31, from $362.9 million, or 56 cents per share, a year earlier. ADM's agricultural services unit, that trades, stores and transports grain, saw results soaring to a triple digit $320 million, rising from $46 million for the same period in 2007. Volatile markets, that have sent prices for wheat, soybean and corn commodities spiralling upwards in recent months, created "unprecedented'" profit opportunities, Chief Executive Officer Patricia Woertz said in the statement. "Once again, our team leveraged our financial flexibility and global asset base to capture those opportunities," she added. Such gains offset the impact of higher costs for the firm's corn processing unit, that produces sweeteners, starches and bioproducts: a unit affected by "increased net corn and manufacturing costs, principally energy," said ADM. Operating profit for sweeteners and starches fell $34 million to $98million for the three months ended March 31. Confirmation that price rises continue to be passed down the supply chain in light of unprecedented costs for food evident with ADM reporting "sweeteners and starches selling prices increased for the quarter." The firm added that the rise in price had helped to negate and 'partially offset' some of the higher costs in the unit. Operating profit at ADM's oilseed processing business profits grew by $52 million, to $237 million, on the back of greater demand for protein meal and vegetable oil, reported the food processor. In addition, 'favorable risk management results' in wheat and malt boosted figures for wheat, cocoa and malt operations, the company reported, with operating profit for the unit increasing $8 million for the quarter to $90 million.