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Monsanto's Top Line Shrinks on Weak Weedkiller Sales

It swings to a better-than-expected profit, however.

Monsanto

(MON)

swung to a first-quarter profit on declining sales, hurt by weaker sales of weedkillers in the U.S.

The company also provided full-year 2003 and second-quarter earnings outlooks in line with analyst expectations.

Monsanto earned $60 million, or 23 cents a share, compared with a loss of $1.7 billion, or $6.59 a share, in the year-ago quarter. Last year's result include a charge from goodwill impairment.

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Excluding charges, the company earned $72 million, or 28 cents a share, compared with $86 million, or 33 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2002. Analysts were expecting the company to earn 22 cents a share.

Total sales were $1.15 billion, down 6% from last year's $1.22 billion. The company cited lowered U.S. sales of its herbicide Roundup and of soybean seeds and selective herbicides globally.

For the second quarter, the company expects to earn between 91 cents and $1.05 a share, within range of analysts' 94 cents a share consensus estimate; the company earned $1.02 a share in the second quarter of 2002.

Looking to full-year 2003 earnings, the company expects $1.25 to $1.40 a share, while analysts expect $1.25 a share, on average. The company earned $1.18 a share in 2002.

Shares of the St. Louis-based company closed at $16.65 Tuesday. Monsanto provides technology-based solutions and agricultural products.