Monsanto Raises Profit Forecast on Strong Corn Sales

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Dan Gill/AP
By Carey Gillam

Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, raised its full-year profit forecast on Wednesday after reporting a better-than-expected second quarter driven by strength in its global corn business.

Its shares rose nearly 2 percent in premarket trading after the company, a leading developer of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and other crops, said it expects to sell a record amount of corn this year.

Monsanto Co. (MON) said strong demand for its products allowed it to raise its fiscal 2013 earnings forecast by 10 cents a share to a range of $4.40 to $4.50 per share before certain after-tax items. That compares with a target set in January of $4.30 to $4.40 per share.

The outlook for net earnings for the full year was raised to $4.42 to $4.52 a share, up from $4.31 to $4.41.
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Monsanto said net earnings were $1.48 billion, or $2.74 a share, in the second quarter, ended Feb. 28, compared with $1.21 billion, or $2.24 a share, a year earlier.

Before certain after-tax items, it earned $2.73 a share, up from $2.28 a year earlier. Analysts were looking for $2.58, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales for the quarter increased 15 percent to $5.5 billion, led by sales of corn seed and genetic traits, which rose more than 16 percent to $3.28 billion. That offset a nearly 2 percent decline in sales of soybean seeds and traits, a 7 percent drop in vegetable seed sales, and a 9 percent slide in cotton seeds and traits.

Monsanto said strong corn sales in Brazil and in the U.S., where farmers are preparing to plant spring crops, drove results.

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Monsanto Raises Profit Forecast on Strong Corn Sales
The company that came away with the top spot isn't a household name, but chances are that this independent engine manufacturer has contributed to your quality of life.

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Google's (GOOG) search engine is so popular that its name has become a verb. It also offers the most popular email (Gmail), mobile operating system (Android), and video website (YouTube) in the world, and its labs are hard at work on the bleeding edge of technology, from wearable computing to self-driving cars. Google's mission, in its own words, is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

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Skyworks Solutions' (SWKS) chips refine and amplify real-world data (such as radio waves) to then pass along a cleaner, stronger signal to the next step in the processing chain. The company's biggest seller is its radio chips for use in Apple's iPhones and iPads. But Skyworks doesn't live and die by Cupertino alone.

Besides selling chips to a wide variety of mobile device makers, Skyworks also counts carmakers, medical device designers, and military suppliers among its top customers. Skyworks notes that only 5 percent of today's cars ship with digital communications built in, but expects all cars to be built with this feature within three to five years.

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