Growth Alive at Monsanto

It easily tops second-quarter estimates.
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Monsanto's

(MON)

second-quarter earnings rose 18% from a year ago, as sales of seeds and genetic codes for corn and other crops were brisk.

Monsanto earned $440 million, or $1.60 a share, in the quarter, compared with $373 million, or $1.38 a share, a year ago. Overall sales rose 15% to $2.2 billion, reflecting a 27% rise in sales of seeds and genomics to $1.5 billion and a 7% decline in sales of agricultural productivity products to $695 million.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were forecasting earnings of $1.52 a share on overall sales of $2.23 billion in the most recent quarter.

"Our second-quarter results, which serve as a key contributor to our overall fiscal year performance, were strong, based on greater adoption of our corn seed and traits, and the addition of our Seminis business," Monsanto said. "These businesses are contributing nicely to our overall portfolio and should help us build positive momentum as we head into the crop season in the United States -- the largest market for our business."

The company said earnings for the year ending in August will be "toward the upper end" of its previous range of $2.35 to $2.50 a share. Analysts pegged the year at $2.61 a share.

"We continue to see strong adoption of our corn seed and traits offerings, including our stacked-trait products which allow farmers to get more benefits out of a single seed. This adoption, in combination with our breeding efforts, has our business poised for market share gains in the U.S. corn seed market for a fifth consecutive year," Monsanto said.

In premarket trading, Monsanto added 88 cents, or 1%, to $86.75, or 34.7 times the high end of the fiscal 2006 guidance. The stock is up 38% since the start of November 2005.