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Syngenta profit up for sixth straight year

Syngenta, the world's largest agrochemicals company, has announced a full year net profit of $1.39 billion (SFr1.62 billion) in 2008 on sales of $11.62 billion.

Sales in the Basel-based firm's crop protection unit rose 22 per cent over last year to $9.2 billion and seed sales were up 16 per cent to $2.4 billion, it said on Friday. Earnings per share were $14.63.

The result was Syngenta's sixth consecutive year of growth.

Chief executive Mike Mack praised the results in the midst of he called "favourable market conditions" and said emerging markets now accounted for a third of the company's sales.

Rising crop prices and record food costs last year spurred farmers to expand planting, helping companies like Syngenta and United States rival Monsanto. But adverse currency effects and risk factors in emerging markets could curb growth next year, Mack said.

"We remain actually quite cautiously optimistic about 2009 and despite some of the uncertainties in the economy, the fundamentals of agriculture are really strong," said Mack.

Syngenta has proposed a dividend of SFr6 per share.

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