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By Karl Plume
July 31 (Reuters) - Bunge Ltd, one of the world's largest agricultural trading houses, on Thursday reported higher-than-expected second-quarter earnings as strong demand and record large soybean crops in the Southern Hemisphere bolstered oilseed processing margins.
The White Plains, New York-based company forecast a solid second half of 2014, skewed toward the fourth quarter, on steady global demand for crops and as the U.S. and European harvests replenish stocks.
Bunge reported net earnings of $272 million, or $1.81 per share, compared with $110 million, or 75 cents per share.
Excluding special items, earnings per share were $1.76. Analysts on average had expected $1.36, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose to $16.8 billion from $15.5 billion, beating the analysts' average estimate of $15.25 billion.
Bunge is among the four large players known as the "ABCD" companies that dominate the flow of agricultural goods around the world. The others are Archer Daniels Midland Co, Cargill Inc and Louis Dreyfus Corp.
"We expect the momentum of the second quarter to carry through for the remainder of the year and that we will meet or exceed our targeted full-year combined returns in agribusiness and food and ingredients of 1.5 points above cost of capital," Chief Executive Officer Soren Schroder said.
Bunge posted higher year-on-year results in all of its business segments, including a record profit in food and ingredients, he said.
Earnings in agribusiness, the company's largest segment by volume, surged 83 percent to $311 million in the quarter, while food and ingredients profit jumped 43 percent to $90 million. Fertilizer segment earnings rose to $11 million from $9 million.
Bunge posted a $6 million quarterly profit in its sugar and bioenergy segment, compared with a year-earlier loss of $3 million. It said the strategic review of its sugarcane milling business, which it has been trying to sell since late 2013, was continuing. (Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago, Editing by Franklin Paul and Lisa Von Ahn)