Monsanto ( MON) dropped 4% early Wednesday after the seed company missed fourth-quarter estimates and guided below the Wall Street consensus for fiscal 2008.

St. Louis-based Monsanto lost $210 million, or 39 cents a share, for the quarter ended Aug. 31, compared with a year-ago loss of $144 million, or 27 cents a share. Excluding certain items, losses narrowed to 18 cents a share in the latest quarter from 21 cents a share a year earlier.

Sales rose to $1.57 billion from $1.39 billion a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a 17-cent loss on sales of $1.66 billion.

"This year was a benchmark year for our company, as more and more farmers throughout the world rewarded us for the value our products are delivering to their farms," said CEO Hugh Grant. "We realized record sales for a fourth consecutive year, made several strategic acquisitions and rewarded shareowners with our largest dividend increase in our history. Our results this year have created a strong foundation for continued earnings growth for our business leading into 2008 and well into the next decade."

The company said it expects to make $2.20 to $2.40 a share for the year ending next August. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for $2.47.

The news comes as third-quarter earnings season has gotten off to a rocky start, with warnings this week from energy giants Valero ( VLO) and Chevron ( CVX) offsetting solid results at retailer Costco ( COST).

Monsanto shares fell $3.40 to $86.11.

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