Monsanto ( MON) posted first-quarter earnings growth of 53%, handily topping Wall Street's forecast.

The seed and agriculture giant said net income for the quarter ended Nov. 30 rose to $90 million, or 16 cents a share, from $59 million, or 11 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected a profit of 10 cents a share.

Sales climbed to $1.54 billion from $1.41 billion, narrowly topping Wall Street's estimate of $1.53 billion. The company attributed the growth to a strong corn seed and traits business, as well as higher volumes of its Roundup herbicide product.

"Backed by the solid performance of our seeds and traits business, including strong early demand for our triple-trait corn technology in the United States, we believe our business is on track for another strong year," said Chairman, President and CEO Hugh Grant in a statement.

For the full year, Monsanto expects earnings toward the upper end of its previous projection of $1.50 to $1.57 a share. Still, that forecast is below analysts' average estimate of $1.60 a share.

Shares of Monsanto recently were down 78 cents, or 1.5%, to $50.90.

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