ST. LOUIS -- Monsanto Company reported net sales for the first quarter of fiscal year 2007 as 10 percent higher than those in the first quarter of fiscal year 2006.

Key drivers for the quarter were stronger adoption of the company's corn seed and trait technologies in the United States, and greater volumes of Roundup herbicides in the U.S. and Brazil.

Comment from Monsanto Chairman, President and CEO Hugh Grant:

"We remain focused on delivering the next generation of innovation to the farm by offering our farmer customers meaningful seed and trait technologies. Our results in the first quarter are testament to this commitment and the value our products are providing farmers. Backed by the solid performance of our seeds and traits business including strong early demand for our triple-trait corn technology in the U.S., we believe our business is on track for another strong year."

The winter months in the Northern Hemisphere agricultural markets provide farmers with an opportunity to review their input costs for the 2007 season -- including new seed, trait and chemistry offerings. Strong early-season order patterns in the United States for the company's corn business are reinforcing growth trends in the company's branded seed business and adoption of trait technologies, particularly its triple-trait corn technology.

Monsanto currently expects that total soybean acres under production may decrease slightly during this growing season as farmers increase the number of acres planted to corn in the United States. However, the company noted that final planted acres will be based on a number of factors leading up to planting, including commodity prices and weather.

The planting season is well under way in the Southern Hemisphere. In Australia, drought conditions have strained the productivity of cotton farmers within the country and reduced the number of acres devoted to cotton production by half. In Brazil, recent estimates suggest that total soybean production in the country could be in the range of 50 million acres.

Operations update

For the first quarter of fiscal year 2007, Monsanto recorded net income of $90 million compared with net income of $59 million for the same period last year. Earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, both on an as-reported and ongoing basis, were 16 cents a share. The company's first quarter results reflected a lower tax rate in the quarter primarily stemming from the conclusion of an ex-U.S. audit. Monsanto believes that the company's full-year tax rate will be in the 30 percent range.

The second and third quarters of fiscal year 2007 are expected to be the primary drivers for the company's fiscal year 2007 EPS results. These quarters reflect both the relative size of the company's U.S. business and the importance of its seeds-and-traits business to Monsanto's earnings.

Seeds and genomics results

The Seeds and Genomics segment consists of the company's global seeds and traits business, and genetic technology platforms.

Sales for Monsanto's Seeds and Genomics segment were $680 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2007, or higher than the same period last year.

Results in the quarter benefited from increased sales of the company's corn seed and traits business, which were 35 percent higher when compared with sales in the same period last year. During the quarter, Monsanto's U.S. corn business realized strong early orders for the company's corn products -- including its higher margin triple-trait technology which offers farmers both above-the-ground and below-the-ground insect protection, as well as weed control flexibility. Monsanto reiterated that the company's DEKALB and Asgrow national corn brands could have more than 35 percent of all of its seed sold in a triple stack during the 2007 growing season.

Sales in the quarter were partially offset by lower volume of the company's cotton traits in Australia as drought conditions there halved the total cotton production area. Results in the quarter were also partially offset by lower revenues from the Seminis vegetable and fruit seed business, primarily a function of the timing of seed sales in 2007 when compared with 2006 sales.

Ag productivity results

The Agricultural Productivity segment consists primarily of crop protection products, residential lawn-and-garden herbicide products, and the company's animal agricultural businesses.

Sales for Monsanto's Agricultural Productivity segment were $859 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2007, or 15 percent higher compared with sales in the same period last year. The primary contributor to the segment's growth in the quarter was stronger volumes of Roundup herbicides in the U.S. and Brazil.

Gross profit for the segment in the first quarter was slightly higher when compared with gross profit in the same period last year. As a percent of sales, gross profit for the segment was slightly less, as the company experienced higher raw material and energy costs for production of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides.

In conjunction with this announcement, Monsanto held a conference call at 8:30 a.m. central time today. The call was to focus on these results, future expectations and an update of projects within the company's R&D pipeline. The call may also have included a discussion of Monsanto's strategic initiatives, product performance and other matters related to the company's business.

Presentation slides and a simultaneous audio webcast of the conference call may be accessed by visiting the company's web site at and clicking on "Investor Information." Visitors may need to download Windows Media Player(TM) prior to listening to the webcast. Following the live broadcast, a replay of the webcast will be available on the Monsanto Web site for three weeks.

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company via PR Newswire.