announced a 17% increase in the company's quarterly dividend on its common shares.

The dividend will rise to 17 cents from 14.5 cents a share. The dividend is payable on Jan. 28 to shareowners of record on Jan. 7.

With the success we've had in converting our earnings and balance sheet into free cash during the past few years, we've been able to honor our commitments to return free cash to shareowners by significantly increasing our dividends," the company said.

In October, St. Louis-based Monsanto raised its growth projections for the 2005 and 2006 fiscal years.

Including charges, the company earned $267 million, or 99 cents a share, on revenue of $5.46 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31. That compares to earnings of $68 million, or 26 cents a share, on revenue of $4.9 billion for the previous 12 months when all charges are included.

Shares rose 26 cents, or 0.5%, to $48.21.