Monsanto (MON), the world's biggest seed company, reported third-quarter profit of 81 cents a share on an ongoing basis, 2 cents above analysts estimates of 79 cents, according to Bloomberg. Net income in the third quarter was $384 million, nearly half of last year's quarter net income of $694 million.

Net sales decreased 6% to $2.96 billion, and was below analyst estimates of $3.17 billion. Operating expenses were flat overall, with a slight decrease for selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses for the three month comparison.

Monsanto affirmed its cash flow and earnings guidance and provided preliminary financial guidance for fiscal year 2011. The company expects fiscal-year 2010 earnings per share to be in the range of $2.40 to $2.60 on an ongoing basis. Analysts estimates for fiscal year earnings are $2.51, according to flyonthewall.

Shares dropped 0.7% in premarket trading.

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