U.S. Markets close in 1 hr 42 mins

The world’s largest and most controversial seed company posts weak earnings

Matt Phillips

Monsanto’s third-quarter numbers:  Not so hot. Sales were up 0.7%. Profits were down about 3% to $909 million. But the St. Louis, Mo.-based agri-giant reaffirmed its guidance of more than 20% earnings growth in fiscal year 2013, which seemed to soothe investors. The shares were roughly flat.

The takeaway:  Monsanto sales were bolstered by sales of weed killers, which rose 9%. Its largest product line, genetically modified corn seed, saw sales rise 2.9% over the prior year. Decreased year-over-year soybean sales in Brazil weighed on results, though the company is planning to launch a new line of soybean seeds for the coming planting season.

What’s interesting: Monsanto is no stranger to public relations challenges, but the last few weeks have been high-profile even by Monsanto’s standards. The company triumphed when the Supreme Court ruled that an Indiana farmer had violated its patent by re-using its weed-resistent soybeans. Now it’s grappling with lawsuits related to the mysterious appearance of wheat grown from unapproved genetically modified seeds on an Oregon farm, an event the company calls “suspicious.”

More from Quartz