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Monsanto Company (MON - Analyst Report), an agricultural products provider, hit a 52-week high of $104.30 on Mar 11, as it gains momentum after reporting solid first quarter fiscal 2013 results. Monsanto has generated a return of approximately 8.4% year-to-date.

The company’s long-term estimated earnings per share growth rate is 11.36%. Average volume of shares traded over the last three months came in at approximately 2,374K.

Solid First Quarter Performance

Monsanto delivered solid results for the first quarter of fiscal 2013 and provided a positive outlook for the upcoming quarters, which we believe drove Monsanto’s shares to the 52-week high.

Adjusted earnings of 62 cents exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 67.6% and the prior-year quarter’s earnings by an incredible 169.6%, driven by solid top-line growth. Also, sales for the quarter beat both the Zacks Consensus Estimate as well as prior year revenue, led by an increase in both the segments.

On the back of such strong results, management upped its guidance for fiscal 2013 to a range of $4.30-$4.40 from the previous expectations of $4.18-$4.32 per share.

The Zacks Consensus Estimates witnessed an upward bias following solid fiscal first quarter results. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2013 rose almost 3.9% to $4.55 while that for fiscal 2014 increased 3.0% to $5.18 in the past 90 days.

In-fact, Monsanto has surpassed the Zacks Consensus Earnings Estimate in seven out of the last eight quarters; posting an average surprise of 19.9%.

The corn business of Monsanto is expected to flourish both in Brazil and Argentina immensely in the coming quarters. With the application of new R&D innovations and strategic alternatives, Monsanto anticipates that 2013 would be its highest revenue generating fiscal year.

Other Stocks to Consider

Monsanto holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Other stocks that are worth a look in the basic materials sector where Monsanto operates are CVR Partners LP (UAN - Snapshot Report), Rentech Nitrogen Partners L.P (RNF - Snapshot Report) and Air Products & Chemicals Inc. (APD - Analyst Report); each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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