Monsanto Co reported a lower quarterly gain on Wednesday, with results falling below Wall Street expectations as the agricultural seed giant warned that competitive pressures would make it difficult to meet previously announced financial targets.

St. Louis-based Monsanto said net income fell 19 percent and reported earnings per share for the second quarter ended February 28 of $1.60 on an as-reported basis, down from $1.97 a year earlier. The company said it earned $1.70 on an ongoing basis versus $2.16 a year earlier.

Analysts were expecting $1.73 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S and $1.70 on a fully reported basis.

The company said full-year ongoing results would likely come in at the low end of its previously stated range of $3.10 to $3.30, and Monsanto officials said it was unlikely the company could meet its long-promised goal of doubling 2007 gross profit by 2012.

While there may be options to make an accelerated push for 2012, it's clear to me that achieving that objective would involve making short-term choices that are not in the long-range interests of the business, Monsanto Chairman Hugh Grant said in a statement.

Net income in the second quarter was $887 million, down from $1.092 billion in the second quarter of 2009.

Net sales fell $145 million, or 4 percent, compared to a year earlier, due largely to lower prices for the company's glyphosate-based herbicides as the company faces stiff competition in key global markets.

Gross profit declined 17 percent in the quarter to $2.1 billion, also driven by the price decreases for Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides. For the first six months, gross profit was down 30 percent, or $1.2 billion.

Shares rose initially in premarket trading but quickly turned lower.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam, editing by Dave Zimmerman_