NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Monsanto ( MON), the agricultural products company, posted fiscal first-quarter earnings that topped analysts' estimates and said it would hit the high end of its fiscal 2012 guidance. Monsanto earned 23 cents a share, beating analysts' estimates of 16 cents. Net sales increased 33% to $2.4 billion, with a driver being sales of Latin American corn. Gross profit rose 33% to $1.1 billion. The St. Louis, Missouri-based company affirmed its fiscal 2012 free cash flow guidance of between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion. It said earnings would be at the high end of its narrowed estimate of between $3.39 and $3.44 a share. The company's previous earnings per share guidance was between $3.34 and $3.44. Its corn seed and traits posted a net sales increase of 46%. Cotton seed and trait net sales rose 73% to $194 million. Shares of Monsanto rose nearly 2% in premarket trading Thursday to $74.05. -- Written by Alexandra Zendrian >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Alexandra Zendrian >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to Alexandra Zendrian.