BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) _ Kellogg Co. reported a 4.4 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings, excluding charges, that exceeded Wall Street expectations. The company credited the increase in part to its use of one-time foreign tax credits.

The Battle Creek-based cereal maker said Thursday it had quarterly net earnings of $142.7 million, or 35 cents per share, compared with $136.7 million, or 34 cents per share, in 1999.

For all of 2000, Kellogg earned $651.9 million, or $1.61, up 7.5 percent from the previous year, when the company had profits of $606.2 million, or $1.50 per share.

Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial had predicted quarterly earnings of 33 cents per share and annual earnings of $1.59 per share.

Shares of Kellogg were down 18.7 cents to close at $25.94 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Net sales for the quarter were $1.56 billion, down 1.9 percent from $1.59 billion in the year-ago period. When excluding foreign currency exchange, acquisitions and divestitures, sales for the two quarters were about equal.

Fourth-quarter earnings were aided by the company's use of foreign tax credits to boost marketing investment in the United States.

Net sales for the year of $6.95 billion declined 0.4 percent from $6.98 billion in 1999, but were up 1.1 percent excluding the impact of foreign currency exchange, acquisitions and divestitures.