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Syngenta Reports 27% Rise in First-Half Net Profit

Agrochemical Syngenta on Thursday posted a 27% rise in net profit for the first six months and raised its outlook for the rest of the year.

The Swiss company said net profit rose to $1.22 billion (890 million euros) from $961 million (701 million euros) in the same period last year. That beat analysts' expectations of around $1.08 billion (790 million euros) in profits.

Syngenta, which reports earnings only for the half year and full year, said sales increased 9.4%to $5.69 billion (4.14 billion euros), from $5.20 billion in the year-ago period.

The company said it expects around 15% growth in earnings-per-share for the full year, compared to previous forecasts of 10% to 11%.

"In strong agricultural markets Syngenta's broad and innovative portfolio captured numerous opportunities and delivered a strong financial performance," said CEO Michael Pragnell.

Crop protection, the company's chemicals business that generates around 75% of overall revenue, "increased sales in all regions and across all product lines, with notable performances in Europe and Latin America," Pragnell said.

Shares in Syngenta were down 2.3% at 226.20 Swiss francs ($187.17; 136.19 euros) in Zurich trading.

The company also said it plans to step up its ongoing share buyback program to $1 billion (0.73 billion euros) from the previously announced $800 million (582.11 million euros).

Damien Weyermann, an analyst at Zurich private bank Vontobel, told Dow Jones Newswires that he welcomed the improved outlook and the stepped-up buyback.

Nina Baiker, an analyst with Zuercher Kantonalbank, said Syngenta's seeds division faced pressure stemming from rival Monsanto strong performance. But she said Syngenta's chemicals business has developed well.