Decatur, Illinois-based agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland today [Wednesday] reported net earnings for the Q2 ended December 31 of US$150m, or US$.23 per share, up from with US$125m or US$.19 per share last year.

Earnings from corn wet milling operations decreased primarily due to weaker fuel ethanol market conditions, said the company, but operating profit still increased to US$341m from US$267m last year. ADM explained that improved oilseed crush margins and improvement in its agricultural services operations accounted for most of this gain.

The results also include a loss of US$0.02 per share from private equity fund investments and a loss of US$O.02 per share from security transactions related to Pradium and Rooster.com, as well as a US$.04 per share gain on partial settlement of the company's claim related to vitamin antitrust litigation.

G. Allen Andreas, ADM's chairman and CEO, commented: "ADM's earnings from operations continue to improve as the fundamentals in many of our core business areas strengthen.

"We continue to improve our global infrastructure in these markets and adjust our capacities to maximize global efficiencies. We will continue to focus on being a low cost commodity supplier while we build our value added product portfolio."

For the six months ended 31 December, meanwhile, net earnings were up to US$282m, or US$0.43 per share, compared with US$234m or US$0.36 per share last year. These figures include a loss of US$0.05 per share from private equity fund investments, a loss of US$0.03 per share from security transactions and a gain of US$0.04 per share from partial settlement of the company's claim related to vitamin antitrust litigation.

Earnings for the same 6 month period include a loss of US$0.01 per share from private equity fund investments, a loss of US$0.02 per share from security transactions and a gain of US$0.14 per share from the Company's unconsolidated affiliate, CIP. The company said that six month results were driven primarily by improved results in oilseeds and agricultural services.