Monsanto Grows 2Q Earnings 19% to Exceed Expectations

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Agriculture giant Monsanto (MON) beat the Street on Wednesday by posting a 19% jump in fiscal second-quarter profits thanks to healthy sales gains.

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The St. Louis-based company said it earned $1.21 billion, or $2.24 a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $1.02 billion, or $1.88 a share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, it earned $2.28 a share, besting consensus calls for $2.12.

Sales jumped 15% to $4.75 billion, topping the Street’s view of $4.53 billion. Monsanto, which is the world’s largest seed company, said seed sales climbed 15% to $3.92 billion.

“Our strong U.S. selling season and growth from Latin America during the first six months have come together to set us up for a great 2012," CEO Hugh Grant said in a statement. "We've seen contributions from growth across crops and geographies, which position us well to deliver high-teens ongoing earnings growth this year.”

With that in mind, Monsanto upped its full-year non-GAAP EPS guidance to $3.49 to $3.54, which compares well with estimates from analysts for $3.51. The company also raised its full-year free cash flow view to $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion.

Shares of Monsanto rose 1.6% to $83.00 ahead of the open, putting them on track to tack on to their 2012 gain of nearly 17%.

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