Archer Daniels Midland Co., the largest U.S. grain processor, said on Monday that fiscal fourth-quarter net earnings fell 6 per cent as the company took a hit on higher energy costs and losses from some securities transactions, Reuters reports. The losses offset strong growth mainly from improved margins from oilseed crushing and improved ethanol and grain handling and selling, ADM said. However, corn sweetener profits were pressured by energy costs and overcapacity in the U.S. left wheat milling soft as well, ADM said. ADM reported net earnings of $56.1 million, or 9 cents per share, for the quarter ended June 30, compared with $59.6 million, or 9 cents, a year ago. The latest per-share figure was calculated on 631.7 million shares outstanding compared with 632.3 million a year ago. Analysts' estimates ranged from 14 cents to 20 cents per share with a consensus at 17 cents, according to market research firm Thomson Financial/First Call. "This is the final quarter to what has been a throw-away year," said Prudential Securities analyst John McMillin. "There's probably not a whole lot of incentive to overdeliver in this year." McMillin added that, next year, ADM would likely do better as soybean processing capacity decreases and sweetener prices improve. Fourth-quarter earnings were pressured by a $40 million increase in energy costs from a year ago, while last year's results included a $108 million charge for asset abandonments and write-downs. ADM reported losses of 2 cents per share from equity fund investments and 3 cents from marketable securities transactions in the fourth quarter, compared with a gain of 2 cents a year ago. Net sales for the quarter rose 9 per cent, to $5.35 billion from $4.91 billion a year ago and earnings from operations rose to $174 million from $32 million a year ago, ADM said. Shares of Archer Daniels Midland were down 32 cents, or 2.3 per cent, at $13.53 Monday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.