Syngenta Q1 Sales Miss Forecasts, 2010 Seen Brighter

Syngenta, the world's largest agro-chemicals company, undershot analyst expectations with $3.5 billion sales in the first quarter and said cheaper raw materials should buoy its 2010 results.

The Swiss company, which makes weed- and insect-killing products and develops genetically-modified seeds, had a tough 2009 because of weak demand and low prices for farming products. It said 2010 should benefit from lower raw material costs, favourable currency movements and margin enhancements in seeds.

"These elements will enable growth in operating income which will exceed earnings per share progression owing to higher tax and net financial expense," Syngenta said in a statement.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had been expecting Syngenta sales to be $3.57 in the first quarter. Credit Suisse's Rhian Tucker said this week the company had "limited potential for stellar growth in 2010 despite ongoing positive margin momentum in seeds" and Vontobel warned that U.S. rival Monsanto could slash its seed prices after posting disappointing quarterly profits last week.

Syngenta stock trades at approximately 13 times forecast 2011 earnings, a discount to Monsanto.

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