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Monsanto's SEC Probe Adds to Scrutiny

Monsanto said the increased sales and gross profit were "led by the positive response to the repositioning of the glyphosate business," as well as a boost from the consumer Roundup product for the lawn-and-garden market.

Still, in earlier years, Roundup sales exceeded $1.3 billion per quarter, with gross profit of more than $2 billion annually.

In 2009, Monsanto spent some $400 million to reorganize the struggling chemicals business.

Investors shrugged off the SEC probe Wednesday, focusing instead on the company's improved profit forecast. Shares of the St. Louis company were up 4.4% to $69.87.

Monsanto has seen its share of regulatory trouble. The Department of Justice has been investigating possible antitrust violations in the seed industry since 2009. Monsanto, which has acquired more than 20 of the nation's biggest seed producers and sellers over the last decade, has long pursued a strict policy with its customers, obligating them to buy its bioengeenered seeds every year rather than use them in multiple planting seasons. Farmers who disobey have been blacklisted.

Though Monsanto hasn't been named as part of the government's antitrust probe, it's widely understood that the St. Louis agricultural giant is the focus.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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