Cargill is a successful agricultural business that has branched out into other areas, including energy, pharmaceuticals and steel. It is the largest private company in the United States. A strategic analysis of Cargill that examines its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats can be useful in understanding and learning from the company's success.
Cargill has two major strengths. The first is its size, which makes it difficult for other firms to obtain the same economies of scale, particularly in commodities such as grains, energy and steel. Cargill's second strength is the fact that it's privately held. This allows Cargill to make long-range strategic decisions that wouldn't be possible if it were subject to stockholder demands for immediate results.
While Cargill's size can be a strength, it can also be a weakness. Because Cargill has expanded into a variety of areas covering products from eggs to oil, and because it's present in countries from the United States to China, they may have a focus issue, resulting in problems in their ability to develop core competencies.
Cargill is excellent at spotting new opportunities. They'e entered new markets in the past and will be quick to enter them in the future. They've lobbied for increased trade with Cuba, which could represent a new opportunity in the future. Cargill has also identified new technological opportunities, including high-tech kites that can be used to power large ships.
Cargill appears to be safe as a whole; there is no competitor with a similar business portfolio that poses a threat to the sum of its many businesses. However, its numerous individual businesses could experience threats from smaller, more focused firms.