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Corn Seed Sales Buoy Earnings at Monsanto

Published: April 3, 2008

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Monsanto said Wednesday that its fiscal second-quarter earnings more than doubled on increasingly strong sales of corn seed and herbicide in the United States.

Monsanto earned $1.13 billion, or $2.02 a share, in the quarter, ended Feb. 29, up from $543 million, or 98 cents a share, in the period a year earlier. Revenue increased more than 45 percent, to $3.8 billion, from $2.6 billion.

The company said that sales of corn seed were a standout in the quarter, jumping to $1.7 billion from $1.2 billion the year before.

The results surpassed the expectations of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial, who had forecast earnings of $1.72 a share.

For the first half, Monsanto earned $1.39 billion, or $2.48 a share, up from $633 million, or $1.14 a share, in the corresponding period a year earlier. Revenue rose to $5.88 billion from $4.15 billion.

The company forecast a 2008 profit of $3.15 to $3.25 a share. The analysts had predicted $3.20. Monsanto earned $1.79 a share in its last fiscal year ended Aug. 31.

In trading Wednesday, Monsanto’s shares fell about 1 percent.

Monsanto cited increases in corn seed revenue in the United States, as well as higher sales of Roundup and similar herbicides in North America, Europe and Africa.

There have been reports that many farmers will shift their acreage this year from corn to soybean production. Even though corn prices are high, the cost of products like fertilizer is also rising fast, making soybeans — which are heavily in demand — an attractive alternative.

Monsanto’s chief financial officer, Terrell K. Crews, said the shift was not expected to cut into the company’s profit because it already dominates the American soybean seed market.




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