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Cold weather in the US hits Syngenta profit

Syngenta, one of the the world's biggest agricultural chemicals groups, posted a fall in profit for the first half of the year, as bad weather in North America hit the crop-protection market.

The Swiss company, which has more than 28,000 employees in 90 countries, said net profit hit $1.39 billion in the first six months of the year, a fall of 1 percent from the same period last year.

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Cold weather in North America delayed the start of the crop season until May, the company said, with CEO Mike Mack telling CNBC: "It kept growers off their fields for longer than we would have liked." One result of the cold spell was reduced risk of disease and insect attacks - and the need for herbicide sprays.

Sales grew by 1 percent, however, coming in at $8.5 billion for the first half, driven by emerging markets, where sales increased 11 percent.

Gianluca Colla | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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In Ukraine, where tensions with Russia have been heated since the start of the year, Mack said volumes were down only a "little bit" as a result.

"We did lose a tiny bit of acres in Ukraine where growers could not plant with confidence... But we were able to offset with pricing," he added.

Russia is also an important market for the company, Mack said. "We're calling for stability there, actually, if not political then certainly in terms of agriculture."

Syngenta said it expected an acceleration in sales growth in the second half of the year, driven by Latin America, and maintained its full-year sales growth target of 6 percent at constant exchange rates.

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