By Karl Plume

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. agricultural processor
Archer Daniels Midland posted stronger-than-expected
quarterly earnings on Tuesday as improving demand and stronger
margins in oilseeds and corn processing bolstered results.

Fiscal fourth-quarter profit was up more than sevenfold
from last year's recession-crimped final quarter, as each of
the company's business segments posted higher operating
profits.

"The ADM team finished strong, capping a very good year
with very good fourth-quarter performance," said Patricia
Woertz, ADM's chief executive officer.

The company's bioproducts division, which includes ADM's
seven ethanol plants, and its agricultural services segment
reversed year-ago losses as demand for food and fuel continued
to rebound from a difficult 2009.

Decatur, Illinois-based ADM is one of the largest U.S.
processors of grain and soybeans and a top ethanol producer.

For the fiscal fourth quarter ended June 30, net profit was
$446 million, or 69 cents per share, compared with $58 million,
or 9 cents a share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Analysts on average expected 53 cents per share, according
to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue slipped to $15.7 billion from $16.5 billion a year
ago, but processing volumes were up and the cost of products
sold fell 8.6 percent from a year earlier.

PROFIT RISES

ADM said oilseeds processing profit rose to $359 million,
up $132 million from a year ago, on improved oilseed crush
margins and higher processing volumes. But it noted some
near-term pressure on margins amid a excess global processing
capacity.

"We see growing long-term demand for protein meal but
short-term excess processing capacity is resulting in softer
crush margins," said Steven Mills, ADM's chief financial
officer.

Improving diets in fast developing nations such as China
have bolstered demand for protein meals used as livestock and
poultry feeds.

The solid oilseed processing results were in stark contrast
to rival agribusiness Bunge Ltd, which reported a
surprising quarterly loss last week and cut full-year guidance,
citing unfavorable oilseed processing margins.

ADM's corn processing segment posted net earnings of $140
million as stronger bioproducts margins more than offset lower
operating profit in sweeteners and starches.

A year ago, the segment lost $11 million as low ethanol
prices and high corn costs squeezed margins.

Agricultural services operating profit was $178 million,
compared with a net loss of $17 million a year earlier, on
rising global supplies of grains and oilseeds and amid
improving demand, most notably from Asia.

ADM's other business units, including cocoa and flour
milling, posted a profit of $122 million, up from $9 million a
year ago.

Shares of ADM on the New York Stock Exchange were up 35
cents, or 1.2 percent, to a 3-1/2 month high of $28.67.
(Reporting by Karl Plume; editing by Maureen Bavdek and John
Wallace)