Monsanto Co. said Wednesday that a strong and early U.S. seed selling season drove its fiscal second quarter net income up 19 percent. The U.S. agricultural giant raised its earnings outlook for the full year.
Monsanto, which produces genetically engineered seeds and the herbicide Roundup, earned $1.21 billion or $2.24 per share in the quarter ended in February, compared with $1.02 billion, or $1.88 per share, a year earlier. Increased corn seed sales in Latin America also boosted results.
Revenue rose 15 percent to $4.75 billion from $4.13 billion.
The results topped analysts' expectations for a profit of $2.11 per share on revenue of $4.53 billion, according to FactSet. Monsanto shares fell 2.2 percent to $80 as the broader market declined. The shares are up more than 15 percent on the year.
The second quarter is an important one for Monsanto because it sells its seeds ahead of the planting season in the Northern hemisphere.
Sales of corn seeds and traits, by far the company's biggest segment, rose 17 percent to $2.82 billion. Soybean seed and trait sales, its next largest segment, rose 12 percent to $698 million.
Monsanto Co., based in St. Louis, boosted its expectations for full-year adjusted earnings by 10 cents per share to a range of $3.49 to $3.54. Including all one-time gains and losses, it expects to report earnings per share of $3.45 to $3.50. Analysts, who tend to exclude one-time items from their estimates, currently expect $3.51 per share.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said last week that corn supplies as of March 1 were down 6 percent from a year earlier, indicating supplies will remain tight and prices high in the near term. Corn is used in everything from fuel and animal feed to syrup for soda.
At the same time, the USDA predicted that farmers will plant 95.9 million acres of corn this spring _ above the previous projections of the USDA and most analysts. That would be 4 percent more than a year ago and the highest level since 1937, when 97.2 million acres were planted. Monsanto produces a large majority of genetically engineered seeds used in the U.S.