UPDATE 4-Monsanto profit beats expectations on strong corn, soybean demand
(Adds details on corn business, background, analyst comment)
By Carey Gillam
April 2 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co, the world's largest seed company, reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings on Wednesday as its corn and soybean businesses expanded globally.
The company, which specializes in developing genetically engineered crops that withstand herbicides and ward off insects, said the profit margin in corn, its top revenue producer, increased 2.5 points in the second quarter ended on Feb. 28.
The corn business was on track to post record volume for the fiscal year, despite lower plantings expected in the United States this spring.
Growing market opportunities in Eastern Europe and advancements in Latin America are helping the company's corn business. And despite year-to-year fluctuations in output and demand, Monsanto said it sees demand for corn worldwide surging with population and income growth over the next several years.
"This is a year where everyone in agriculture recognizes the market realities of softer commodity prices, more volatile global currencies and some decrease in corn acres in key markets like the Americas," Monsanto Chairman Hugh Grant said on a conference call with analysts and reporters.
"We're not immune to these trends," he said. "But our business is on track to deliver the growth we anticipated."
Still, reaction was mixed, and the stock seesawed. Continuación...