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Loss Widens at Monsanto

Fourth-quarter sales rose 3%.
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fiscal fourth-quarter sales rose 3% from a year ago, but its loss widened compared with the 2004 period.

The company lost $125 million, or 47 cents a share, vs. a loss of $42 million, or 16 cents a share, last year. On a continuing-operations basis, Monsanto lost 50 cents in the most recent quarter.

Sales increased to $1.27 billion from $1.23 billion.

Quarterly sales increased slightly because of growth in Monsanto's seeds and traits businesses. Revenue fell for the company's Roundup agricultural herbicides and selective herbicides in the U.S.

Monsanto raised its fiscal 2006 estimates, saying it now expects earnings of $2.35 to $2.50 a share, a growth rate of up to 20% from this fiscal year's continuing operations base profit of $2.08.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were looking for a loss of 51 cents in the fourth quarter. The consensus fiscal 2006 estimate is a profit of $2.46.