Monsanto Earnings Dip on Lower Biotech-Seed Sales

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Monsanto said its earnings fell more than 5 percent in the third fiscal quarter on lower sales of biotech seeds, but its performance still topped Wall Street estimates and the company raised its 2014 outlook. It also announced plans to repurchase $10 billion in shares.

The combination sent shares up $6.10, or 5.1 percent, to $126.73 in Wednesday trading.

The company raised the low end of its 2014 forecast to between $5.10 and $5.20 per share. Previously, the company’s estimate was for earnings of $5 to $5.20 per share.

Monsanto Co. said the $10 billion share buyback will take place over the next two years. The company has about $1.1 billion remaining under its previous share-buyback plan.

The St. Louis company said it earned $858 million, or $1.62 per share, in the three months ended May 31. That was down from $909 million, or $1.68 per share, a year ago. Revenue was virtually flat, at $4.25 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet had expected Monsanto to report earnings of $1.54 per share on revenue of $4.39 billion for the quarter.

The company reported a 16 percent decline in sales of genetically engineered corn seeds, its best-selling product. Farmers in the U.S. and abroad have been switching from corn to more profitable soybeans.