* Shares rise 3 pct on improved EPS outlook
* Earnings seen rising 25 pct for fiscal year
* Free cash flow guidance narrows in a top end of range
By Carey Gillam
May 30 (Reuters) - Shares in global agricultural giant Monsanto Co. jumped more than 3 percent after the world’s largest seed company said on Wednesday it expected fiscal 2012 earnings to grow 25 percent over last year, with continued strong growth into 2013.
Company Chairman Hugh Grant said that the company is raising 2012 earnings per share guidance to the range of $3.65 to $3.70 on an ongoing basis and $3.73 to $3.78 on an as-reported basis.
Monsanto projected third-quarter earnings per share of $1.57 to $1.62 on an ongoing basis and $1.69 to $1.74 on an as-reported basis.
Free cash flow for the full year should be at the high end of its previous range, projecting $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion, the company said.
Monsanto expects continued growth in 2013 with mid-teens ongoing earnings growth projected from the higher base that will be set in 2012, Grant said.
Shares climbed more than 3 percent to $77.35 on the news before easing slightly by mid-morning.
Expanded acreage planted to corn and soybeans in the United States was key. But corn sales in Brazil were higher than expected, and expanded acres and growth in Monsanto’s core business in Eastern Europe helped drive better-than-expected performance, the company said.