US agricultural chemicals and seed conglomerate Monsanto yesterday reported second-quarter post-tax profits of US$421m before exceptional items, up 5% from the same period last year. Earnings per share rose by 3% to US$1.60, inching ahead of analysts' forecasts. While currency fluctuation is likely to hold back sales growth in 2001 to between two and four percent, Monsanto expressed optimism that earnings would rise by nine to 13 percent.