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Monsanto Lifts Profit View

Shares reach a 52-week high.
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Monsanto (MON) said earnings for its recently ended fiscal year will top targets, sending shares rising 3% early Monday.

The St. Louis-based company now estimates earnings of at least $2 a share, before one-time items, for the year ended Aug. 31. The company's most recent projection called for earnings of $1.75 to $1.80 a share -- a forecast that had already been raised from prior views.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial projected earnings of $1.83 a share, before items, for the year.

Monsanto said its new estimate reflects a more favorable tax rate due to the resolution of several tax audits and the use of net loss carry forwards in Argentina.

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In addition, the company said it has had continued strength in its corn business, with higher-than-expected sales of corn seeds in Brazil and Argentina. Monsanto's corn business has helped fuel results over the past year amid strong worldwide demand for corn-based ethanol.

Monsanto also said it was helped by better-than-expected pricing for its Roundup business, which helped offset flat sales of the agricultural herbicides.

Including all items, Monsanto estimates earnings of $1.79 a share for the year, compared with $1.25 in fiscal 2006.

Shares of Monsanto recently were up $2.40, or 3.3%, to $75.90, surpassing a 52-week high of $74.90 hit on Friday. The stock traded at a 52-week low of $42.75 last October.