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ADM's Great Year, Weak Quarter

No shock here: Archer Daniels Midland has just wrapped up a great year. But the year was capped by a not-so-great fourth quarter.

admWith grain prices soaring through the year, ADM, the world's largest grain processor, couldn't help but clean up. But recent weakness among grains has taken its toll.

"With the commodity prices falling every day, people don't want to buy and tend to take the market more hand-to-mouth,'' said John Rice, executive vice president for commercial and production, said during a conference call with analysts on Tuesday.

The price of soybeans fell 19 percent during the quarter, according to Bloomberg News.

And unless the markets have hit a bottom, the new year might not start off so great, either. In note to investors, Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moscow said that he sees "the collapse in grain futures over the past month as a net negative for this company's prospects.''

Customers, squeezed by high costs, are holding off on sealing long-term deals for processed grains.

One caveat: while the quarter failed to meet analysts' expectations, and particularly in soybean processing, can only be seen as a disappointment, Toby Shute of the Motley Fool writes that the "results only look weak because last year's number included gains on some Asian investments."