Monsanto Comes Through

Third-quarter sales surge.

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After posting a huge 42 percent jump in fiscal third-quarter profit from a year ago, Monsanto continues to extend its lead in seed as record crop prices mean farmers are still willing to spend mightily on its products.

Earnings for the quarter ending May 31 hit $1.45 a share, a full 10 cents ahead of Wall Street consensus estimates. The ag giant also raised full-year 2008 guidance to $3.63 a share, up from an earlier range of $3.38 to $3.48.

Thanks to soaring crop prices, Monsanto saw profits double on its popular RoundUp weed killer, though profit from seeds missed some expectations.

Hugh Grant, Monsanto's chairman, president, and chief executive officer, took on some of the opposition to soaring crop prices that made for a successful quarter, saying, "While others are asking should it be food or feed or fuel, we believe the answer is and, and we have the solutions in hand to be a significant part of that answer."

Goldman Sachs says this: "Monsanto is a serial overachiever, and this year has been no different, with an elevated stock price and multiple upward revisions to estimates." It kept a "buy" rating on the stock with a 12-month price target of $155, while noting Monsanto's beat today still might not be enough to send shares up given high hopes among investors.

Monsanto shares were off more than 4 percent in midday trade.