Seed giant Monsanto (NYS: MON) has been facing some challenges that may have made investors quite nervous. So some estimate-beating numbers should sound like really good news. What do higher revenues and narrower losses mean for the company going ahead? Let's find out.
The Latin benefit
Monsanto, like most other companies, has been benefiting from the agriculture boom. Strong demand from Latin America for its seeds, especially corn, drove Monsanto's revenues higher by 15% from the year-ago quarter to $2.2 billion.
Corn and emerging markets both have been driving up sales for other industry players, too. Syngenta (NYS: SYT) , for instance, saw higher corn-seed and herbicide sales in the first half of the year, when its sales from Latin America grew a robust 17%, contributing to the overall 14% rise in sales.
A growing top line helped narrow Monsanto's loss to $112 million from $143 million last year.
The Roundup roundup
Monsanto's herbicide business, though, has been under some pressure. Problems started with its Roundup herbicide sales losing out to cheaper substitutes. Then the company got entangled in an SEC probe relating to incentives it paid to distributors of Roundup. Following this, Monsanto conducted its own review and has now decided to restate its financial statements from 2009.
But what's heartening for investors here is that Monsanto derives major revenues from its seed business, which should remain unaffected by these investigations.
It's really bugging Monsanto
The company faced another recent challenge, with reports that several acres of corn in the Iowa belt were being affected by a bug in spite of being planted using Monsanto's genetically modified pest-resistant corn seeds. Investors dumped the stock in fear. Monsanto then tried to get hold of the situation by saying that the problem seemed to be restricted to only a few farms and was not widespread.
Whatever the case, such incidents have a tendency to create doubts in the minds of those who use these products, giving an opportunity to rival companies such as DuPont (NYS: DD) and Dow Chemical (NYS: DOW) to buck up sales of their similar offerings. It will be interesting to see how things play out for Monsanto.
Keen on growing
Monsanto is hoping to make gains from Latin America's growth in the future, and it's also looking at expanding genetically modified corn in Mexico.
What's more, the Missouri-based company is investing in widespread expansions of its new products next year, offering more hybrids and boosting volumes globally. It has also recently acquired a pest-control technology company, adding value to its product portfolio.
The Foolish bottom line
Monsanto's growth plans look to be firmly in place. Its expansion moves and its raising of corn-seed prices should boost revenues in the future. What's more, apart from investing in expansion, management is returning value to shareholders through share buybacks and dividends. The stock currently yields a dividend of 1.8%.
At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Neha Chamaria does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Syngenta.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a synthetic long position in Monsanto. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.
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