Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland has reported a drop in quarterly earnings, despite good performances by its soybean and corn processing operations.

The Illinois-based company posted earnings of US$95.02m, or 15 cents a share, for the fourth quarter to 30 June, compared to $112.26m, or 17 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected earnings of 16 cents a share.

Earnings in the previous fourth quarter were 12 cents per share after one-time items, due in part to the partial settlement of a vitamin antitrust litigation.

The company's agricultural services profit fell 67% due to poor US crop production in 2002. This decline was partially offset by gains in ADM's core corn, oilseed and wheat processing operations, reported Reuters.

Sales and other operating income increased 19% to $8.05bn.