Rentech Inc. said Tuesday that its fiscal fourth-quarter loss widened, hurt by lower fertilizer shipments and lower corn prices in the weak economy. The results did not meet Wall Street expectations.

The Los Angeles alternative-fuel developer and fertilizer maker reported a net loss of $6.4 million (3 cents a share) for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with loss of $2.9 million (1 cent) a year earlier. Revenue fell 67 percent to $24.7 million.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average expected a per-share loss of 1 cent on revenue of $45.5 million.

Rentech makes fuel from waste and biomass that has been certified for commercial aviation. It has a contract at Los Angeles International Airport starting in 2012, when its commercial production plant is expected to be ready. In the meantime, the company brings in revenue from its fertilizer division.

For the full year, the company reported net income of $3 million (2 cents), compated with net loss of $56.8 million (-34 cents) in fiscal 2008. per share in the prior year. Revenue fell 13 percent to $183 million. Analysts expected per-share earnings of 7 cents on revenue of $209 million.

Nonetheless, Chief Executive D. Hunt Ramsbottom said he was pleased with the company’s performance, noting that the company generated positive net income for the first time in its history.

“Disciplined cost management and record cash flow generation enabled us to make significant advances in our alternative fuels business in a challenging economic environment when many companies were retrenching or failing,” Ramsbottom said in a statement.

Shares closed down 4 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $1.60 on the New York Alternet.

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