Can Monsanto Regain Its Record Highs?


On Wednesday, Monsanto will release its latest quarterly results. Given the importance of agriculture in the world, Monsanto has seen its stock rise substantially over the past few years. But it still trails where it was in early 2008, during the height of the commodity boom. Can Monsanto regain all of its lost ground?

Monsanto makes a wide variety of chemicals and fertilizers for the agricultural industry. But the division with the most promise -- and controversy -- is its seed business, in which the company has engineered crops with a number of valuable traits in order to adapt to different growing conditions around the world. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Monsanto over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report.

Stats on Monsanto

Analyst EPS Estimate


Change From Year-Ago EPS


Revenue Estimate

$4.42 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue


Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Will Monsanto's earnings grow this quarter?
Analysts have had mixed views of Monsanto's earnings prospects in recent months. They've reduced their calls for the May quarter by $0.13 per share, but they've boosted their full-year fiscal 2013 and 2014 estimates modestly. The stock is essentially unchanged since mid-March, having given up gains from earlier in the quarter.

Monsanto's crop technology is the envy of the industry, and the company has had great success in getting its competitors to agree to cross-licensing deals. DuPont and Monsanto settled their joint disputes in March, and Monsanto will receive $1.75 billion over 10 years under the deal they reached. Similarly, Dow Chemical agreed to trade its Enlist Weed Control System for Monsanto's Corn Rootworm III technology in April.

Monsanto faces some problems, though, especially in maintaining its relationships with farmers. The Supreme Court decided in May that farmers weren't allowed to take Monsanto seeds and use them over multiple years without paying the company for them. At the same time, however, the U.S. Department of Agriculture hit both Monsanto and Dow with denials of their requests to approve crops that would survive various herbicidal applications. Hundreds of thousands of people filed comments or signed petitions against the use of genetically modified organisms, showing the extent of the sentiment against Monsanto.

Indeed, Monsanto's GMO work could pose a threat to U.S. exports, as Japan and South Korea canceled wheat imports earlier this month when genetically modified wheat was found. With countries around the world imposing restrictions on genetically modified food, Monsanto faces an uphill battle with farmers looking to take advantage of high yields to feed the rest of the world.

In Monsanto's quarterly report, watch for the company to take a stand on how it plans to handle its public relations in light of the GMO controversy. Long-run results depend on Monsanto's ability to navigate the world markets effectively.

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