(By Balaseshan) Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MON), a provider of agricultural products, reported a 35.4% jump in third quarter earnings helped by continued momentum of its seeds and traits business. Earnings and revenue came in ahead of Street's expectations.
Earnings for the third quarter were $937 million or $1.74 per share, up from $692 million or $1.28 per share last year. Earnings per share (EPS) from ongoing business rose to $1.63 from $1.28.
Sales grew 16.9% to $4.22 billion. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.60 per share on revenue of $4.0 billion.
Sales of corn seed and traits jumped 34.9% to $1.52 billion, while soybean sales rose 15.4% to $698 million.
Total Seeds and Genomics sales grew 18% to $3.13 billion, supported by strong sales across its U.S. corn and soybean portfolios.
Sales from Agricultural Productivity segment increased 13.5% to $1.09 billion, due to higher-than-expected sales across the company's chemistry portfolio, including its Roundup, lawn-and-garden and selective herbicides businesses.
Looking ahead into the fiscal 2012, the company confirmed its EPS guidance from ongoing business of $3.65 to $3.70, while Street analysts predict $3.70. The company expects 2012 EPS on an as-reported basis to be $3.73 to $3.78.
Monsanto also reaffirmed its 2012 free cash flow guidance of $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion. The company expects net cash provided by operating activities to be $2.7 billion to $2.9 billion, and net cash required by investing activities to be $1 billion to $1.1 billion.
For the fiscal 2013, the company sees mid-teens ongoing earnings growth, expected from the base of $3.65 to $3.70, while Street predicts $4.24.
MON closed Tuesday's regular session at $77.87. The stock has been trading between $58.89 and $83.94 for the past 52 weeks.