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7-Misc.: Monsanto's profits fall

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TITLE:  Monsanto profits fall, hurt by acquisition costs
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   April 22, 1999

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Monsanto profits fall, hurt by acquisition costs

ST. LOUIS, April 22 (Reuters) - Life sciences firm Monsanto Co. said Thursday its first quarter profits fell 33 percent to $132 million as it spent more on interest payments and amortization costs related to last year's $6 billion in seed company acquisitions. The maker of Roundup herbicide, Celebrex arthritis treatment and NutraSweet artificial sweetener said it earned 20 cents a diluted share, topping analysts' expectations, on sales of $2.5 billion. Last year, Monsanto earned $196 million, or 32 cents a share, on sales of $2.0 billion. Analysts had expected Monsanto to earn 16 cents a share in the latest quarter, according to research firm First Call, which tracks such data.

"We're encouraged by early 1999 events," Robert Shapiro, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "Most notably, early patient demand for Celebrex arthritis treatment is at an unprecedented level for any new drug. Celebrex is on track to become the most successful new product ever launched in the history of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry." Monsanto said it was advancing other new drugs in its product pipeline, and also saw strong demand for its crops with biotechnology traits. Last year, Monsanto bought two seed companies and agreed to purchase a third for a grand total of more than $6 billion.


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