The New York Times, By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS January 8, 2013: The agricultural products company Monsanto reported on Tuesday that profit in its most recent quarter more than doubled as sales of its biotech corn seeds expanded in Latin America.
The company raised its earnings forecast for the year, briefly lifting its shares to its highest level in more than four years.
The company’s sales grew 21 percent, to $2.9 billion in the quarter, with most of the increase coming from the company’s corn seed business.
Monsanto said it earned $339 million, or 63 cents a share, in the period, which ended Nov. 30 and was the first quarter of its fiscal year. That compares with a profit of $126 million, or 23 cents a share, in the period a year earlier.
Monsanto’s results topped analysts’ predictions of 36 cents a share on sales of $2.6 billion, according to FactSet.
The company’s first fiscal period is usually not very profitable, as farming operations slow during the fall months in the United States and Europe. But increased sales in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and other Latin American countries helped drive earnings from September through November.
Monsanto told investors last year that it expected to benefit more from the growing season in the Southern Hemisphere.
Monsanto predicts that international sales will account for half of its growth in seeds for fiscal 2013, which ends in August.
Sales of the company’s largest unit, seeds and genomics, grew 27 percent, to $1.1 billion, on demand from farmers in Brazil and Argentina.
Monsanto’s corn and soybean seeds have genetically engineered traits meant to produce more crops and repel bugs. The company said those traits benefit farmers enough that they come out ahead, even though the seeds cost more than conventional seeds.
Shares of Monsanto, which is based in St. Louis, rose $2.56, or 2.67 percent, to $98.50.