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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Not All Bad- Monsanto Profit Doubles, Raises Outlook

NEW YORK (AP) -- Monsanto Co., the world's biggest seed maker, said Wednesday its fiscal first-quarter profit more than doubled on higher sales to Latin America, and raised its expectations for the year.


Its shares climbed more than 8 percent in premarket trading.

The St. Louis-based company said it earned $556 million, or $1 per share, in the three months ended Nov. 30. That compares with $256 million, or 46 cents per share, a year ago. Monsanto said it earned 98 cents per share excluding gains from discontinued operations.

Monsanto said revenue jumped 29 percent to $2.65 billion from $2.05 billion, as sales of Roundup and other herbicides and corn seeds and traits climbed more than 30 percent each.

Thomson Reuters said analysts it surveyed expected a profit of 59 cents per share and $2.44 billion in revenue.

Monsanto reported strong demand for its weed killers in Brazil, and total herbicide sales rose 35 percent to $1.36 billion. Revenue from the company's agricultural productivity unit increased 28 percent to $1.55 billion.

It also made gains in sales of genetically modified seeds. Monsanto said total seeds and genomics sales were up 31 percent, to $1.1 billion. That includes a 34 percent surge in corn seed and trait sales. Growing demand from Brazil and the U.S. pushed those sales to $628 million, Monsanto said.

Latin American sales make up the bulk of Monsanto's first-quarter revenue. Most of the company's revenue come from its U.S. business, where sales pick up in the second and third quarters.

Soybean seed and trait sales grew 31 percent to $212 million, which Monsanto credit to demand from early growers in the U.S.

The company also paid a lower tax rate in the first quarter.

Monsanto now forecasts an adjusted profit of $4.40 to $4.50 per share in fiscal 2009, up from $4.20 to $4.40 per share. The new outlook includes only results from ongoing operations, and does not include the effects of its purchase of a Brazilian sugar cane business.

In premarket trading Wednesday, Monsanto shares jumped $7.13, or 8.4 percent, to $79.35.