Rising corn seed sales helped Monsanto Co. boost its second-quarter profit by 15 percent compared to last year.
The world's biggest seed company said Wednesday that corn seed revenue jumped 7 percent. The company is rolling out more expensive brands of genetically altered corn seeds, and competing fiercely for market share against seed developers like DuPont.
The St. Louis company reported Wednesday its net income rose to $1.02 billion, or $1.88 per share, for the quarter ended Feb. 28 compared with $887 million, or $1.60 a share, a year ago.
Revenue increased 6.2 percent to $4.13 billion from $3.89 billion. That included $2.4 billion in corn seed revenue.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet had expected earnings of $1.84 per share on overall revenue of $4.15 billion.
Second quarter results are critical for Monsanto, because they cover a period when the company books its seed sales to farmers. Analysts had questioned whether Monsanto would be able to convince farmers to pony up more money for strains of corn seed that had several genetically altered traits. Competitors like DuPont's Pioneer Hi-Bred have been trying to steal away customers, in part by lowering prices.
Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said the second quarter results show Monsanto's sales strategy is working.
"Given the tempo of the year, we are where we should be, and we have the right pieces and the right execution to feel very good that mid-teens earnings growth in 2011 is on track," Grant said in a statement.
The company affirmed its full-year earnings forecast of $2.72 to $2.82 on an ongoing basis and between $2.66 and $2.79 per share on an as-reported basis. Analysts expect earnings of $2.85 for the year.
Shares fell 43 cents to $72.89 in pre-market trading.
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