US biotech giant Monsanto has reported a wider net loss for the first fiscal quarter, hit by restructuring charges and the write-off of its global wheat business.

Monsanto posted a net loss of US$97m, or 37 cents a share, for the first quarter to 30 November, compared to a net loss of $18m, or 7 cents a share, a year earlier, reported Dow Jones Business News.

The company recorded a goodwill write-off of $69m, or 26 cents a share, for the wheat business, and charges of 15 cents for restructuring and discontinued operations. Excluding those items, the company said it would have earned 4 cents a share.

Total first-quarter sales rose 22% to $1.03bn, compared to $846m a year earlier, helped by higher sales of herbicide in the US and Brazil.

For fiscal 2004, Monsanto reiterated its earnings guidance of between 55 and 65 cents per share on a reported basis, or $1.40 to $1.50 per share excluding items.