Agriculture giant Monsanto (NYSE:MON) beat the Street on Wednesday by posting an 8.6% jump in fiscal first-quarter profits that were driven by stronger soybean seed and traits revenue.
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The world’s largest seed maker said it earned $368 million, or 69 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $339 million, or 63 cents a share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, Monsanto said it earned 67 cents a share, exceeding forecasts from analysts for 64 cents.
Revenue rose 6.9% to $3.14 billion, narrowly topping the Street’s view of $3.08 billion. Gross margins expanded to 49.7% from 47.5%.
Monsanto said its corn seed and traits revenue fell 7.5% to $1.05 billion last quarter, while sales of soybean seeds jumped almost 16% to $267 million.
"The first quarter demonstrated that our business performance is squarely on track with several key milestones and that we have the right growth strategy in place," Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said in a statement.
Looking ahead, Monsanto reaffirmed its call for fiscal 2014 EPS of $5.00 to $5.20 on free cash flow of $600 million to $800 million. By comparison, analysts have been calling for EPS of $5.25.
Shares of St. Louis-based Monsanto dipped 0.20% to $113.01 in premarket trading Wednesday morning. Monsanto shares have rallied about 15% over the past 12 months, underperforming the broader markets.