US agribusiness Bunge has said that its first-quarter net profit tripled from a year ago, as strong global sales offset weak demand in the US.

Bunge said net earnings in the first quarter rose to US$40m, or 40 cents a share, from $13m, or 15 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Earnings were also boosted by the company’s acquisition of French edible oil manufacturer CEREOL, reported Reuters.

Analysts had forecast an average of 33 cents a share for the quarter to 31 March, with a forecast range of 30 cents to 35 cents.

Earlier in April, Bunge forecast first-quarter profit of between 30 and 35 cents a share.

The company said agribusiness results were particularly strong in South America, helping to offset weaknesses in North America where drought caused reduced harvests of soybeans and grains.

For the second quarter, Bunge expects net profit of between $55m and $60m.