(Adds details from conference call; updates shares)
Jan 30 (Reuters) - Corteva posted a surprise quarterly profit on Thursday, helped by higher sales of a new herbicide, better pricing in Latin America for some of its seeds and cost cuts.
Shares of the company rose about 5% to $29.17 in morning trade after Corteva also said it was ramping up production of its Enlist line of soybean seeds and herbicides.
The upbeat fourth-quarter results follow a difficult start to 2019 that saw historic flooding in U.S. Midwest and lower demand from China due to a protracted trade war.
Corteva forecast global agriculture markets to grow 2.5% to 3% as it expects weather conditions in North America to return to normal and forecast its sales to grow slightly above market consensus.
It also expects demand to strengthen following the signing of the trade deal between the United States and China earlier this month as about 11 million acres that went out of service in 2019 will come back into production.
On coronavirus, Corteva said it was monitoring the outbreak in China, adding that it was too early to tell the impact on demand.
Volumes rose 6% in the fourth quarter, boosted by higher seed sales in North America as the company was able to expand its distribution and retail channels beyond selling directly to farmers.
Sales were also buoyed by strong demand for its new herbicide, Enlist, ahead of the 2020 planting season and sales of a new type of corn seed launched in Latin America in 2019.
Local prices also rose 3%, primarily due to gains in Latin America.
Corteva forecast full-year operating profit between $1.45 and $1.55 per share, while analysts had estimated earnings of $1.48 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data. Sales forecast of about $14.5 billion for 2020 were above estimates of $14.43 billion.
The company, which has been cutting costs since its spin off from chemical conglomerate DowDuPont in June, said it saved about $50 million in the quarter and was on track to deliver $1.2 billion by 2021.
On a post-earning conference call with analysts, Corteva said it was considering a restructuring plan, but did not provide further details.
Net loss from continuing operations attributable to Corteva narrowed to $45 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from $752 million a year earlier, when it booked charges related to integration and separation.
Excluding items, Corteva reported operating earnings of 7 cents per share, while analysts had expected a loss of 12 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
Net sales rose 6% to $2.98 billion, beating expectations of $2.92 billion. (Reporting by Taru Jain and Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Anil D’Silva)
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