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Monsanto boosts FY profit prediction

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Monsanto Co. on Wednesday boosted its full-year profit prediction, citing continued strong global demand from corn growers.

Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant told analysts at a conference that the company is in a growth mode, boosted by the long-term need for greater agricultural productivity around the world.

The agriculture products company said it now expects to post an adjusted fiscal 2013 profit of $4.50 to $4.55 per share. In April, the company projected an adjusted profit of $4.40 to $4.50 per share.

Despite the boost, the guidance still fell short of Wall Street predictions. Analysts, on average, expect a profit of $4.62 per share, with estimates ranging from $4.45 to $4.80, according to FactSet.

Monsanto said the improved 2013 outlook reflects the continuation of strong business trends that began in the first half of the year, including overall full-year growth in the company's global corn portfolio and better-than-expected strength at its agricultural productivity business.

For the third-quarter, Monsanto said it expects a profit of $1.55 to $1.60 per share, while its fourth-quarter loss is expected to be smaller than the 42 cents per share loss it posted in the same quarter a year ago.

Analysts expect third-quarter earnings of $1.68 per share and a fourth-quarter loss of 41 cents per share.

Grant said the company expects record volumes at its global corn business, which is expected to result in "mid-teens" sales growth in corn for the overall year.

The company also said that it expects ongoing earnings growth in the "mid-teens" for fiscal 2014.

Monsanto shares fell $2.06, or 2 percent, to $103.49 in morning trading.