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Monsanto Has Corny Quarter

Corn demand helps the agricultural concern beat targets and raise guidance.
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, crediting strength in its corn-seed business, posted second-quarter results that beat Wall Street's targets and raised its guidance for the full year.

For the quarter ended Feb. 28, agricultural giant's net income rose to $543 million, or 98 cents a share, from $440 million, or 80 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales climbed to $2.62 billion from $2.2 billion in the prior period.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial projected earnings of 94 cents and a top line of $2.44 billion.

The St. Louis-based company said it has seen strong demand in its corn seed and traits business in the U.S. as farmers gear up for the 2007 crop season. Corn has been in big demand recently as ethanol, derived from the plant, gains favor as an alternative energy source.

"While the 2007 agriculture season is shaping up to be an outstanding one, the strong demand that we've seen for our higher-yielding corn seeds and our higher-margin, triple-trait corn technology has translated into an excellent second quarter and first half for our business," said Chairman, President and CEO Hugh Grant in a statement.

Monsanto now sees fiscal-year earnings of $1.60 to $1.65 a share, up from an earlier view of $1.50 to $1.57. Wall Street currently expects earnings of $1.62 a share.