March 30, 2011 / 2:07 PM / in 7 years

UPDATE 2-Alliance Grain shares fall on earnings

* Q4 earnings C$0.62 mln vs C$14.4 mln year earlier

* Wet Canada weather delayed farmer deliveries

* Shares down 4 percent in Toronto (Adds comments from conference call, updates share activity)

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 30 (Reuters) - Canada’s Alliance Grain Traders AGT.TO, a top exporter of legume crops such as lentils, said on Wednesday that its fourth-quarter earnings dropped sharply year over year, hurt by bad weather.

The results spurred a 4 percent fall in the company’s shares.

A wet planting season last year in Western Canada, where Alliance is based, prolonged the harvest, causing a wide range of crop quality and slowing farmer deliveries, Alliance Chief Executive Murad Al-Katib said in a conference call with analysts.

Alliance then had to pay high prices on the spot market for crop supplies to meet sales commitments, he said.

“We had a five-month weather event that did not stop,” he said. “(It) doesn’t get a lot worse than this.”

Alliance reported adjusted net income of C$620,000 ($639,000), or 3 Canadian cents, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, down sharply from C$14.4 million, or 81 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had expected earnings per share of 40 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. It could not be immediately confirmed whether the estimates were for adjusted earnings per share.

Alliance shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange dropped 4 percent, or C$1.08, to C$24.68 on Wednesday morning, touching the lowest price in over a year.

Al-Katib said he expects stronger demand in 2011 for the company’s main crops and food products and will continue to seek to expand, perhaps through acquisitions, in the United States, India, China, Australia and Southern Africa.

$1=$0.97 Canadian Reporting by Rod Nickel; editing by Peter Galloway

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