Monsanto noted that quarterly sales were up 7 percent, "primarily because of increased corn seed sales in Europe and Brazil, higher corn and soybean trait revenues in the United States, and higher revenues for Monsanto's cotton traits in Australia".
Indeed, the company claimed sales in the seed and biotech businesses jumped 20 percent during recent months.
This led to a reported net loss of $40 billion, or $.15 per share, compared to $97 million, or $0.37 per share, in the first quarter of 2004. The most recent results included a pretax charge of $284 million to establish a reserve for bankruptcy proceedings tied to the company's former affiliate the chemical concern Solutia.
The first-quarter results also include a tax benefit of $106 million from losses incurred in a European wheat and barley business that the company has been winding down.
Monsanto remains upbeat about its financial position and reiterated expected fiscal-year 2005 net earnings of $1.56 to $1.71 per share, or $1.85 to $2.00 on an operating basis, in line with the increased forecast it gave late last month.
"The first quarter was a good start to the fiscal year, yet the most significant part of our annual business cycle is to come," said Hugh Grant, the CEO of Monsanto.
His moral may have been somewhat lower yesterday, though, when the firm agreed to pay a $1.5m fine for taking illegal payment to an Indonesian government official in 2002.
Monsanto accepted full responsibility for its actions and agreed for a three-year period to close-monitoring of its business practices.