Seeking Alpha
We cover over 5K calls/quarter
Profile| Send Message|
( followers)  

Executives

Scarlett Foster – Vice President, Investor Relations

Hugh Grant – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Terry Crews – Chief Financial Officer

Robb Fraley – Chief Technology Officer

Analysts

Jeffrey Zekauskas - J.P. Morgan

Prashant Juvekar - Citigroup

Nils Wallin - Credit Suisse

Kevin McCarthy - Banc of America Merrill Lynch

Peter Butler - Glen Hill Investors

Vincent Andrews - Morgan Stanley

Charlie Rentschler - Wall Street Access

Frank Mitsch - BB&T Capital Markets

Laurence Alexander - Jefferies & Co.

Mark Gulley - Soleil - Gulley & Associates

Chris Shaw - UBS

Robert Koort - Goldman Sachs

Monsanto Company (MON) F1Q09 Earnings Call January 7, 2009 9:30 AM ET

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Monsanto Company first quarter 2009 results conference call. (Operator Instructions)

It is now my great pleasure to turn this conference over to Scarlett Foster, Vice President, Investor Relations. Please go ahead, ma'am.

Scarlett Foster

Thank you, [Martin], and best wishes to everyone on the line for the new year. I'd like to welcome you to our first quarter earnings conference call, and I'm joined this morning by Hugh Grant, Monsanto's Chairman and CEO, by Terry Crews, our CFO, and by our Chief Technology Officer, Robb Fraley. Also joining me is Laura Meyer, my colleague in Investor Relations.

Before we begin, I'd like to remind you that we're webcasting this call. You can access it at Monsanto's website at Monsanto.com. The replay is also available at that address. And for those of you who'd like to go to our website, the slides for this call are posted on the Investor Information page.

We're providing you with EPS measures both on a GAAP basis and on an ongoing business basis. In those cases where we refer to non-GAAP financial measures, we've provided you with a reconciliation to the GAAP measures in the slides and in the earnings press release.

I need to remind you that this call will include statements concerning future events and financial results. Because these statements are based on assumptions and factors that involve risks and uncertainty, the company's actual performance and results may vary in a material way from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statements. A description of the factors that may cause such a variance is included in the safe harbor language contained in our most recent 10K and today's press release.

Today's conference call features our fourth annual review of our R&D pipeline results. In addition to Robb's remarks, I'll take you through the first quarter results. Hugh will provide a strategic and operational outlook, and Terry will address our increase in guidance for the 2009 fiscal year.

Let's start with the first quarter, as shown on Slide 4. Gross profit rose by 49%, which more than flowed through to net income as both SG&A and R&D as a percent of sales were lower as compared with the first quarter last year. This coupling of growth with financial discipline resulted in ongoing earnings of $.98 for the first quarter compared with $0.45 of ongoing EPS in the comparable period. While we anticipated certain discrete tax events that would take the full year tax rate to roughly 30%, several of those occurred earlier than anticipated. This resulted in an $0.08 per share tax benefit in the quarter.

From an operations perspective, the first quarter is all about Latin America, as we highlight on Slide 5. Across the region, gross profit rose by more than 80%, with Roundup gross profit doubled and Corn, Seeds and Traits gross profit rose by more than 50%.

From a Roundup perspective, it was a standout quarter, driven by Brazil, where our significant levels of prepayment for Roundup in last year's fourth quarter flowed through into higher sales from both volume and price increases.

Latin America as a whole continues to shift to premium corn seed hybrids, and that, combined with a richer trait mix in Argentina and Brazil specifically contributed to the gross profit improvement in the area. Based on our early read, we are on track to gain corn seed market share across the region, even as we are taking a cautious approach to credit through the second season in Brazil.

These market share gains are expanding our leading seed footprint in Latin America just as the region is emerging as a new player in biotech traits. In Brazil, we expect to sell 1.5 to 2 million acres of YieldGard corn bore this fiscal year, at the high end of our original expectations. In Argentina, we likewise have sold more than 2 million acres of the newly approved double-stack corn. This is also above our original target, and the double-stack was roughly half of everything we sold in the DEKALB brand in Argentina this year.

The pace of regulatory approvals in Brazil underscores the response we're seeing globally to the need for more grain. As we closed out the calendar year, we received Brazilian regulatory approval for Roundup Ready Corn and Cotton. We have seed production under way in the second season in Brazil so that we will have Roundup Ready Corn inventory to sell there in the fall of 2009.

Additionally, the El Salvador government issued its first permits for biotech corn experimental trials, underscoring the importance and the value of the timing of our Cristiani seed acquisition in Central America.

Moving from a world area to a segment look at the numbers, gross profit growth came both from Roundup and from Seeds and Traits, particularly corn and soybeans.

Looking first at Roundup on Slide 6, the branded net selling price was up in every world area, as reflected in the gross margin lift. The first quarter saw prices above our targeted $16 to $18 band, in line with our forecast that pricing would remain above that band for the full year.

Volumes were down slightly, in part because of the drought in Argentina and in part because of a return to a more normal selling pattern in the United States. This year we would anticipate that well over a half of the volume in the U.S. will be sold in the third and fourth quarters, as we experienced in fiscal year 2007. Remember that in fiscal year 2008, early buying ahead of an announced February price increase pulled U.S. volume into the first and second quarters.

If you would turn to Slide 7, gross profit for Corn, Seeds and Traits improved by 41%, with a 3point margin lift. In addition to the strong performance in Latin America, the U.S. also saw an uptick in Corn, Seeds and Traits in what was the very start of the upcoming shipping season.

As we note on Slide 8, soybean orders have been early and aggressive this year in the U.S., and the start of the sales season has reflected both higher volume and greater value in early shipments. Soybean gross profit rose 31% as a result. While not a significant piece of our first quarter results, all indications are that the Roundup Ready Soybean trait in Brazil appears to be on track to approach the 60% penetration mark this fiscal year.

Improvements in Vegetable gross profit and margins in the quarter were a function of the addition of the De Ruiter business, even after the inventory step-up from that acquisition. As you'll see on Slide 9, for the Seeds and Traits business as a whole, gross profit increased 37% and margins were up more than 3 percentage points compared with gross margins in the first quarter last year.

Turning to free cash flow, given the late harvest for corn in the U.S. and the corresponding extension of our prepayment deadline, free cash flow for the quarter was $124 million compared with $740 million at the end of November 2007. You see this as well on the deferred revenue line of the balance sheet, which was down $590 million in the year-to-year comparison. As Terry and Hugh will discuss shortly, the order pace and the level of prepayments for the U.S. market picked up in December, underscoring our commitment to market share growth in corn and soybeans.

So at this time I'd like to turn the call to Hugh, who will give a strategic outlook for the business.

Hugh Grant

Thanks very much, Scarlett. Let me also wish you all the very best for the new year.

As you know, in agriculture that new year really starts in September, as Latin American farmers tuned up their planters and North American growers rolled out their combines. No one on this call will be surprised when I say that as we started our fiscal year 2009, the world was rapidly realtering its priorities in the face of a huge global economic downturn.

While no business in recession proof, agriculture tends more than most to retain its intrinsic value in difficult times. Farming's a process that over time rewards foresight and patience and tends to punish the sudden impulse. To succeed, farmers have to make their best economic decisions based on consistency of performance and their own brand of portfolio management. As we saw with our stellar results in Latin America in the first quarter, even in these uncertain times farmers buy the best.

Fundamentally, our ability in tough times to grow market share, increase trait penetration, and lift our financial commitments is the difference to being a technology company and an agricultural industry dominated by commodities and, unfortunately, by commodity mentalities. These first four months of this fiscal year have been some of the most contentious I can recall given the level of concerns about our ability to sell world class technology in a time of economic uncertainty and very aggressive competitive pressures.

Through all this, my drumbeat to our team has been simple: We've created a category of groundbreaking technologies that are highly prized for the value that they deliver on the farm in good times and in bad, year after year. So we'll manage our operations for the long-term view, and the decisions and tactics that we're implementing today feed the strategy through 2012.

Our philosophy for growth remains simple. It's not particularly unique, but it is effective. Our objective is to optimize the variables of market share, price, and trait penetration. So when you look out to the coming U.S. growing season, none of this is certain in the first week of January but we do have some indicators, so today here's what we know.

First, in terms of volume, after a late start because of the delayed [inaudible], our order patterns for corn accelerated in December and have continued to be stronger than normal in the first week of January. Soybean orders continue to outpace the prior year. As we started the new year, our orders represented more than 90% of our targeted sales in corn in both DEKALB and American Seeds, and over 100% of our target in soybeans, again for Asgrow and American Seeds. Our order patterns would suggest a stronger year for soybeans versus our original expectations of 70 million acres of beans and 90 million acres of corn, but it's far to early to declare acreage projections. For now, suffice it to say that we conservatively forecasted more corn and less soybeans, and the toggle between the two will affect the final market share numbers.

Secondly, in terms of trait penetration, the trait mix in corn has improved yet again. With a 15% increase in triple-stack orders for DEKALB and American Seeds brands, both brands will have more than 70% of their portfolio in triples versus 65% last year. As further validation of the value of innovation, our Corn States customers look to have lifted their triple mix to 50% versus 40% last year. We continue to anticipate that there will be 34 to 35 million acres of Monsanto triple-stack planted this coming season, a 17% to 21% increase in triple penetration.

Third, in terms of price, we've stayed true to our pricing to value philosophy. The proof in the pudding, I think, is in the level of pre-payments. That's cash in hand across all of our channels for both corn and soybeans. As of December 31st, the pre-payments were running 50% ahead of last year's. This signals strength in pricing as well as some volume increases.

Against these factors, we have a competitor whose strategy appears to be market share at any price. A fresh survey from late December shows that half of the growers who would typically purchase a competitor's brand have been offered free corn seed, and a quarter of those growers were offered free or discounted soybeans as the loss leader if they bought the competitor's corn.

As the innovator and brand leader, we've chosen a price for the value that we've created and for a rich pipeline that's poised for commercialization. As we've triangulated volume, price and trait penetration, 2009 now looks to be our ninth consecutive year of share gains for corn in the U.S., with 1 to 2 points in DEKALB and 1 in American Seeds. Our original target was 2-plus points for DEKALB and 1 point for American Seeds. In the drive for optimization, we've chosen value per acre over deep discounting for share. The result of staying true to our optimization philosophy will be a more than 25% growth in gross profit for Corn, Seeds and Traits for the full fiscal year, with roughly a 3-point margin lift for corn year-over-year.

In soybeans, after a long history of flat market share, our Asgrow brand will break through, with a 1point market share gain this year as the first 1 to 2 million some acres of Roundup Ready 2 Yield make their way onto farmers' fields.

This year, more than any that I've ever seen, points to the difference between being a leader that sells innovation and a follower, with a short-term commodity chemicals mind-set. Pricing is a strategic decision for us, and the value of the platform that we're selling today sets the stage for the technologies that we will be rolling out from now through the middle of the next decade. The relationships between value, market share, and technology is particularly meaningful today, as Robb gets ready to unveil our fourth annual pipeline review. Across our crop platforms, the story is the same: Expand the footprint for our recent technologies and explode the penetration of our biotech traits.

Our ability to earn the right to your investment is predicated on our ability to translate groundbreaking innovation into game-changing products that deliver more yield for farmers on the same land at a lower cost. Even as we drive through the [inaudible] of blocking and tackling in a more challenging economic and a more challenging competitive environment, we've delivered a stunning first quarter based on performance in Latin America that's unmatched in the agricultural industry.

As a result, we lifted our guidance to the $4.40 to $4.50 range for ongoing EPS for the fifth consecutive year of 20% plus earnings growth at the same time that we expect our free cash flow to now top $1.8 billion.

So, as Robb will so eloquently argue, we're at the apex of yet another breakthrough in our technology offerings. As the technology and brand leader, we will stay the course, take our ninth consecutive year of corn share gains, grow our total Seeds and Trait gross profit by at least 15%, enrich our overall margins, and set the stage to grow yet again with [inaudible] gains and blockbuster traits like Roundup Ready 2 Yield, SmartStax, and the coming drought tolerance.

So with that, let me turn the call over to Terry, then, for a financial view of our change in guidance for this year.

Terry Crews

Thank you, Hugh, and happy New Year to everyone on the line.

In the face of uncertainty over how the Latin America farmer would handle currency fluctuations, commodity prices and access to credit, we've delivered substantial increases in sales, gross profit and net income, and have continued to invest in the future, all while controlling spending and working capital without resorting to restructuring.

From this solid first quarter, as we show on Slide 9, we can look forward and project an increase in our full year ongoing EPS guidance to the $4.40 to $4.50 range. This equates to a lift of more than 20% over 2008's ongoing EPS and our fifth consecutive year of 20% plus growth. And it continues to move us toward our commitment to more than double 2007 gross profit in 2012.

As Scarlett and Hugh have noted, the strong start to the Latin America season is an enormous positive, and all signs point to the makings of a premium corn seed business there through our 2012 strategic plan. Our prudence in incenting pre-payments for Roundup and repatriating cash early in the first quarter out of Brazil has paid off in our first quarter results. That said, we remain cautious from a credit perspective as we go into the second season in Brazil. We're confident in our market share objectives, but if necessary we will pass on a sale rather than chase risky debt, particularly for the Roundup business in Brazil.

As Hugh mentioned, we now have several key indicators for the start of the critical U.S. growing season. As CFO, the one I've watched closest in pre-payments, and on an apples-to-apples basis as of December 31st, our pre-payments in the U.S. for corn and soybeans across all three channels are up more than 50% compared with prepaids at the end of December last year. The most significant piece of this is price, as you would expect for the technology and market leader, but volume is also a contributor, given our market share expectations.

That level of cash gives us the confidence to continue to expect share gains across crops and across channels, even as we face excessive discounting in the marketplace. There's a lot of noise in the marketplace right now and it's important to keep in mind, whether it's seeds or Roundup, our pricing is to the channel. Retailers ultimately decide what they charge the farmer, and they can raise or lower the price of a bag of seed or a gallon of Roundup as best fits their business without it affecting the net average selling price back to Monsanto.

Given our strong start to the year, our first quarter has been much stronger than our historical patterns. From today's vantage point, EPS on a quarterly basis will continue to show our strongest results in the second and third quarters. Our fourth quarter will again be a small loss, but a larger loss than what we experienced in the fourth quarter of 2008. This growth rate recognizes the substantial nature of the increase in the first quarter, while maintaining the growth rate for the second and third quarters of approximately 10% to 12% over EPS in each of those two quarters last year.

While we expect to see solid growth in our U.S. Seeds and Traits business, we would anticipate a lower Roundup profitability in Brazil and Asia in our second quarter.

Free cash flow is expected to exceed our original $1.8 billion target, in line with our lift in earnings guidance and assuming roughly $1 billion in capital spending. The first quarter level of free cash was down compared with the prior year's first quarter because of the timing of prepayments. You should expect to see us build our free cash position as we move through the next three quarters.

On the working capital side, financial discipline again was key this quarter, and receivables as a percent of sales over the trailing 12 months declined to just under 15% versus 18.5% of sales through the first quarter of fiscal year 2008. Our DSOs in Brazil were the lowest in the company, and also inventories were flat at 25% to sales for the total company.

We continued our steady repurchase of shares in the first quarter with another $75 million repurchased. As of December 31st, we completed our initial $800 million authorization and have already started repurchasing shares against our second $800 million three-year authorization.

While the markets will ultimately sort out the number of acres of corn and soybeans grown in the Americas this year, Brazil and Argentina are likely to be on pace with 30 to 35 million acres of corn and 90 to 95 million acres of soybeans. In the U.S., our forecast was for 90 million acres in corn, 70 million in soybeans, and 8 million in cotton. The odds are high that these projections will be wrong and market share will move as the denominator moves.

With our footprint, our technology reach, and our pipeline of new products, our job is to leverage our innovation to drive yield regardless of the location or the crop. As always, we're relatively indifferent financially as to which crop is planted. A 1 million acre shift between corn and soybeans in the U.S. equates to $0.01 to $0.02 per share in favor of corn.

In short, this has been a very good start to a year that started with a great amount of economic uncertainty and concerns about farmer liquidity and profitability. We have the bulk of the Latin America season already in hand and that's seen our business perform well there across the board, while maintaining our tight credit policies. We now have a line of sight to a ninth consecutive year of market share growth in U.S. corn combined with ample grower access to the leading trait technologies. We've protected our pristine balance sheet, while still generating significant levels of free cash that will return to shareholders through a combination of acquisitions, dividends, and share repurchases.

We're confident enough to point to an increase in EPS guidance, but cautious enough to know that we have to manage our operations, our spending and our working capital carefully in order to maintain our market-leading position, advance our technologies, and meet our commitments to you.

So with that, I'll turn the call over to Robb.

Robb Fraley

Thanks, Terry, and good morning, everybody.

Sometimes in the focus of the day to day it's easy to lose sight of the landscape of what's to come set against the backdrop of what's been achieved in plant biotechnology within Monsanto. For the fourth consecutive year, we can report that our biotech pipeline progress is accelerating. If you would refer to Slide 11, I'd point out to you several milestones in what was another truly exceptional year.

First, six projects were either advanced phases or were added to the pipeline. Particularly exciting is that for the first time ever, two projects moved from Phase 3 to Phase 4 after only having been in Phase 3 for one year. This would be the leading edge of our standard 12 to 24 months for that phase.

Now, as exciting as the movement in phase is, the projects that did so were even more compelling. Specifically, Monsanto has now submitted a regulatory package to the EPA for SmartStax, which will become the new standard in the marketplace as the most durable and highest yielding product for total weed and bug control in corn. We're the first company to request a refuge reduction for insect control both above and below the ground. And as we start the new year, we've submitted the first regulatory package for drought tolerant corn to the FDA, widening the gap on the first mover advantage for this blockbuster family of traits.

I would view both of these as the tip of the proverbial iceberg in R&D. Below these high-level accomplishments is the R&D engine that is fueling our future. This year we tested thousands of genes in hundreds of thousands of field events in hundreds of locations, and true to our research philosophy, we tapped into more than 1,400 technology related agreements, an increase of 40% over the prior year.

Now all of this progress in biotechnology is underpinned by the power of our breeding program. In R&D, just as it is in the marketplace, consistency of performance is key. Perhaps said another way, one year's worth of data doesn't make a yield trend. And it's worth reiterating, then, as you look on Slide 12 that on a three-year rolling average, we've demonstrated on farm an 8.8 bushel per acre competitive edge in corn and nearly a 1 bushel advantage on soybeans.

What's new on this slide is some of our first data on our breeding efforts in cotton, and you'll see that the new varieties we have ready for the Delta/Pine Land brand in 2009 outyielded the best that both we and the competition had to offer. I was in San Antonio just two days ago speaking with growers at the Cotton Beltwide Meeting and I can tell you that the interest in these new cotton varieties is quite high.

And perhaps most notable on Slide 12 is that black bar in the Southern tier. We now have a variety that has outyielded Triple Nickel, the 555 variety, that was the backbone of Delta/Pine Land's success prior to our acquisition of them. And as we turn around the cotton business in the U.S., these breeding gains are going to be crucial to our success.

Slide 13 gives you another visual of the depth and breadth of the biotech pipeline. Additionally, you'll see that we've added two new products. One is for the stack insect and weed control product in Sugar Cane developed in conjunction with CanaVialis prior to our acquisition of this leading breeding group in Brazil. The other is the second generation of the insect-protected Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans, which is being developed exclusively for the Brazilian market.

As Scarlett noted, the pace of biotech trait approvals in Brazil is quickening and that underscores the value of a research program that targets Brazil's unique agricultural needs, so let's start the indepth review with two products that are entering the commercial realm.

The first is Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans, as shown on Slide 14. With the European Union import approval in hand, U.S. growers have the full freedom to plant this game-changing technology. This year's varieties have already been selected, and the 1.5 million acres for the two maturity zones that we have in hand are already spoken for in the marketplace.

The reason for this is clear if you turn to Slide 15. We are consistently delivering a yield advantage of 7% plus in just a limited number of varieties we'll have available for the 2009 growing season. In 2010, you'll see the full force of our soybean breeding program, combined with the Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait as we explode through the majority of the maturity zones and bring 5 to 6 million acres of product to the marketplace.

Roundup Ready 2 Yield has been the perfect marriage between breeding and biotech. On its own, the yield advantage is huge, and this will ultimately drive share over the competitive optimum get product that is late to launch and fails to offer farmers an added yield benefit.

Strategically, Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans becomes the platform for stacking dicamba herbicide tolerance, a bevy of oil traits, and our yield genes, the latter of which I'll discuss in a minute. We and we alone are changing the face of soybean production and value creation for growers.

I often say that Roundup Ready 2 Yield is to soybeans as SmartStax is to corn. Both are platform of the greatest durability that become the base trait package for everything else you see listed for our corn and soybean pipeline.

If you turn to Slide 16, one of the key components of SmartStax is the second generation of YieldGard core bore for above-the-ground insect control. This product has demonstrated a 4% yield advantage over our first generation product. Most importantly, the EPA has already approved a refuge reduction to 5% for the second generation product, and this performance is central to our refuge reduction request for SmartStax. So while it won't be a commercial product on its own, the second generation YieldGard corn bore foreshadows the enormous grower benefits that will come with SmartStax.

As we turn on Slide 17, SmartStax is delivering unprecedented insect control against corn rootworm and caterpillar pests. Coupled with the potential for a reduced refuge, the collective performance advantage of SmartStax should boost total farm yield by 5% to 10%. The SmartStax launch in 2010 will widen the already substantial performance advantage we have in corn. Importantly, we will have at least a two-year lead over the earliest estimated launch of DuPont's Optimum Acre Max based on their most recent public comments.

Let's turn to the other products that have moved phases and are thus one step closer to commercialization. Today's announcement that the key FDA regulatory filing has been made for the first product in the drought family is breakthrough news for us and our collaboration partner, BASF. The data on Slide 18 speaks as to why.

We've seen another year of higher yields under drought conditions, and through five years of testing, we've met or exceeded the 6% to 10% yield improvement target. Over the next year, we will make additional regulatory submissions and our field work will focus intensely on the best germplasm and trait combinations for dry land corn production.

Our higher-yielding soybeans, also developed through the BASF collaboration, made the jump into Phase 3 this year. We'll be expanding the testing of lead events in the coming growing season, but we can point to another 6% to 7% yield advantage with this new trait.

You can see the visual difference on Slide 19 that brings this product one year closer to growers. This yield technology will eventually be stacked with Roundup Ready 2 Yield and dicamba tolerance across our broad soybean germplasm base to create the first triple-stack product in soybeans.

Now we've not had a phase advancement in cotton for awhile, and the performance of the combination for weed control of our two-way product that you see on Slide 20 is stunning. Cotton farmers will have unparalleled choice in weed control through the combination of tolerance to either dicamba or to glufosinate, and this product is to be stacked with Roundup Ready Flex for a third level of weed control. Not only did this new product shown in the picture withstand the onslaught of herbicide sprays, but it did so at yield parity to conventional cotton. This product will give cotton growers more tools to improve weed control and to target resistant weeds.

One of the surprises of this year's pipeline is the addition of a project dedicated to Sugar Cane. Prior to the acquisition of the Alellyx and the CanaVialis Sugar Cane breeding company in September, we had been working in partnership with them to develop a product with Roundup Ready and caterpillar insect protection.

As we note on Slide 21, the first yield trials and greenhouse studies have allowed us to add this product to the pipeline with the potential to create value through less insecticide use and higher yields. The impressive breeding and biotech capabilities of CanaVialis will enable us to quickly test yield and stress genes to add to this weed and insect control platform in the future.

Now a number of products have obviously stayed in phase as we continue to test the product concepts in lead events. Two of those in corn also being developed through the BASF collaboration are worth mention.

The first product dedicated solely to yield in corn is being tested in our pipeline to determine which events are the most commercially viable and hence warrant more aggressive field trials in the 2009 season. As you can see on Slide 22, several of these events are either already at or close to achieving the product concept target of a 6% to 10% yield gain.

Finally, our nitrogen utilization trait was able to repeat its performance of providing a yield advantage as nitrogen applications are reduced below standard application rates. As we show on Slide 23, we demonstrated this concept in 2007 and built on that base in 2008 by using 60 pounds of applied nitrogen, significantly below the test standard of 200 pounds. The result was an 8% yield bump that, combined with the lower input cost, would be a priceless tool for farmers. Expanded testing in 2009 should provide the additional data needed to advance this exciting product into Phase 3 next year.

Now, we'll be presenting a broader range of projects at our R&D road shows in New York, Boston and London this week and next.

Financially, as shown in Slide 24, we continue to see significant valuations for the products in the pipeline. Because of our generous sharing philosophy, the farmer derives value from the technologies regardless of commodity swings as he or she has during the first 12 years of the use of biotechnology in crops. The pipeline we are showing you today has the potential to deliver value at the farm gate of some $5 billion by the year 2020.

By any measure in the technology world, not just agriculture, this pipeline is of unparalleled breadth, depth and value. And importantly, you don't have to wait until 2020 to see that value in our financial results, as we summarize for you on Slide 22. We have reduced the promise of research to practice with two new product launches and four phase changes that bring those products a step closer to commercial reality. Our competitive edge has widened yet again.

As Hugh noted, our salespeople are just selling the corn seed to be planted in 2009. They are selling the platforms for the next wave of technology that will rewrite the book on farming around the world.

We look forward to seeing you in our more in-depth reviews over the next two weeks.

With that, I'll turn the call over to Scarlett for your questions. Thank you.

Scarlett Foster

I'd like to go ahead and open your call to questions and ask that you please try to hold your questions to one per person so that we can take as many questions from as many people as possible. And you're always welcome to rejoin the queue for a follow up question.

With that, Martin, if we could go ahead an open the line?

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you, ma'am. (Operator Instructions) Your first question comes from Jeffrey Zekauskas - J.P. Morgan.

Jeffrey Zekauskas - J.P. Morgan

Just a quick two-part question. The first is that in Robb's slide on the pipeline, tolerant corn seems more or less equal with SmartStax in Phase 4, so does that mean that drought tolerant corn could come to market in 2011?

And the second part is on your balance sheet you have a line of grower production accruals that went from $172 million to $654 million. Can you explain what that is and the significance of it is?

Hugh Grant

Robb, maybe a word on acceleration potential and then Terry on accruals on production?

Robb Fraley

So, Jeff, I appreciate your enthusiasm there. We just submitted the very first regulatory approval for drought tolerance to the FDA. We've got a lot of work to do on all the international approvals for this product, so I think the standard timing we've laid out in our phases is the benchmark we should use at this point.

Jeffrey Zekauskas - J.P. Morgan

So that means 2012, right?

Robb Fraley

Yes.

Hugh Grant

Thereabouts, yes.

Terry Crews

And relative to grower accruals, that really is the accrual that we have for the seed that we're growing to sell our contract growers, and it's up just because we would anticipate more sales, therefore grew more bushels that we owe to growers. And secondly, the higher commodity prices is taking it up some. So it's a normal increase that we would see in our business for this time of the year.

Operator

Your next question comes from Prashant Juvekar - Citigroup.

Prashant Juvekar - Citigroup

A question on [glufosinate]. You know, there were some major glufosinate contracts that expired at the end of '08. Do those contracts get repriced higher?

Hugh Grant

I'm trying to think what expired by the end of '08, P.J.

Terry Crews

P.J., I think you're probably referring to some of our supply agreements.

Prashant Juvekar - Citigroup

Yes.

Terry Crews

They expire at various times. Some of them have been renewed, and we obviously can't discuss the pricing of them. I think that what I would want to leave, though, you with is that the reason we're seeing the increase in glufosinate is due to the branded business. It's largely been a Brazil business. Even though I can't really give pricing on those contracts, what I can say is that the growth in our business is still driven by our branded business, largely driven by our Brazilian branded business, in the first quarter.

Prashant Juvekar - Citigroup

I was looking at '09 and I was thinking that some of the supply agreements, if they get repriced higher, that's what gives you the confidence for '09 because, if that's not the case, then if farmers are buying less fertilizers, could they be buying less herbicides as well and would that have an impact on your business in the U.S.?

Terry Crews

Well, right now we would expect our U.S. Roundup business to still be strong. And again, the growth that we're talking about for this year is still driven by our branded business. But if you looked at what we're doing, I think we're up about $300 million of GP in the first quarter, largely driven by Brazil. To get to the range that we've given, we're talking about another $200 to $300 million in the rest of the year, and that's largely going to be driven by our U.S. business. And it's still, again, largely driven by our branded business.

Prashant Juvekar - Citigroup

And just lastly on the glufosinate issue again, what is the average glufosinate price to you, net back to you, do you expect in '09?

Terry Crews

Well, we're going to be above our band of $16 to $18. We'd like to get through the U.S. season before we say where it's going to be and also the second season in Brazil, which we would expect to be down. But we probably still are looking something in the $20 type range would be what I would expect for the full year.

I do want to emphasize we would expect glufosinate to come back down to the normalized range of $16 to $18 so, you know, this is the benefit we're seeing. From where we're at today, this is the benefit we're seeing from Brazil at the start of this year.

Operator

Your next question comes from Nils Wallin - Credit Suisse.

Nils Wallin - Credit Suisse

I just had a question with regard to your pipeline. This year it seemed you had two major families move forward in phase. How would you characterize the rate of acceleration in your pipeline? Is it improving or is it simply that we've seen all of the R&D efforts hit critical mass in the last two years?

Robb Fraley

I would definitely categorize, as I tried to in my comments, that the rate of pipeline advance is accelerating and that's driven by the incredible discovery engine that we have. We're testing more genes in more transgenic crops in more test sites and locations than ever before. Our collaboration with BASF on yield and stress is introducing a whole new wave of innovation.

So I would say both in terms of the productivity of the near term commercial product launches with Roundup Ready 2 Yield and SmartStax and the projects that we've moved into Phase 3 and Phase 4 as well as the early stages of the pipeline, where we're starting to see an increasing population of yield and stress product concepts, it's definitely accelerating.

Nils Wallin - Credit Suisse

So is this a factor of scale or is it a factor of new technology to expand the R&D process?

Robb Fraley

It's really going to be a combination of both. I mean, we've expanded scale in terms of our breeding and testing. We've expanded scale in terms of the addition of new crop platforms in both Vegetables and in Sugar Cane. And we've clearly dramatically expanded the infusion into the pipeline with the BASF collaboration and a large and extensive both internal R&D program as well as licensing relationships with many, many institutions outside of Monsanto.

Operator

Your next question comes from Kevin McCarthy - Banc of America Securities.

Kevin McCarthy - Banc of America Merrill Lynch

A two-part question with regard to timing of seed orders. In the corn side, Hugh, I think you mentioned that you witnessed some acceleration in December and January. Is that a function of the late harvest or have you been compelled to make any price adjustments there. Perhaps you can elaborate.

And then on the soy side, what is driving the early order pattern at Asgrow?

Hugh Grant

Yes, Kevin, for the first part - and I'll ask Terry to step in - but in the first part, yes, it's driven by a late season. So in the midst of everything else we've been facing, we had a late spring, very wet, flooding in the Midwest that pushed planting back, so crops came off the ground later than usual. And I think that, combined with some of the uncertainty in the countryside, we saw order patterns running a lot later than usual.

We've seen a lot of flood [flop] this year versus last year, as we mentioned in our prepared remarks. Beans are running ahead. Bean acreage is probably going to be up and corn acreage is probably going to be a bit softer, so we've seen the bean book selling a bit faster than the corn book.

And I think the Asgrow, you know, your specific question on success in Asgrow and what's been driving that, it's performance. And with the work that Robb and the breeding team have done within Robb's organization, we're seeing that yield benefit translate in share gains. And I think it really argues well for the future with Roundup Ready 2 Yield because with finite acres and fixed grounds, if you can deliver 7% - 11% more yield in the same acre, I think that's really going to drive performance in the coming years. But it's the reemergence of breeding programs in beans.

Kevin McCarthy - Banc of America Merrill Lynch

And a follow up to that, if I may, on cotton. I know you've been working hard in recent years to integrate Delta and Pine Land. It sounds like you're making good progress on the technology. What is your outlook for market share for the coming planting season in cotton?

Scarlett Foster

We haven't given a market share number yet for cotton. I think generally you should continue to view 2010 as a turnaround year still for us in cotton because a lot of the breeding gains that Robb referred to won't be in the marketplace yet. So really I don't think you'll see the breeding improvements that we've made in the cotton portfolio until we get into 2010. And that's also the point at which we'll have, I think, the right mix of the double-stack of Roundup Ready Flex with Bollgard II.

So I don't have an exact market share number for you for Delta and Pine Land just get becuase that season's a little bit later than corn and soy, but I think you should look more to 2010 as a turnaround year.

Operator

Your next question comes from Peter Butler - Glen Hill Investors.

Peter Butler - Glen Hill Investors

Could you talk about where your market share was in corn and soybeans last year and where that share might go over the next, say, three years with the new technologies that you're going to be putting into the market? How much of a game changer do you expect the drought gene for corn to be in regard to your market share?

Hugh Grant

I'll start with the last piece and maybe ask Robb to say a few words. I think drought has the potential to be a real game changer. The good news is getting the regulatory filings so, you know, the first question was is this accelerating, and the way I look at it, it's less of an acceleration; it's more of a certainty. And having that increased certainty once you get the files in is a really big step. So I think regardless of where commodity prices are, a company that has the opportunity to improve efficiency of production where water is a challenge has a real competitive edge.

Robb Fraley

Yes, Peter, in terms of the drought tolerance, that's a product that we've just advanced in phase. It would appear in the marketplace at the outer end of the timeframe we've talked about in terms of doubling our GP. So the impact in the short term will be less than the other projects that I've talked about.

And I'd just point out how significant SmartStax will be, though, during this period because, you know, SmartStax will launch in 2010, and we'll have significant yield and convenience benefits for the growers. I mean, the data on the improvements in bug control, both below and above the ground, and the yield benefits from that, as well as the inherent convenience to the grower of having to plant significantly less acres to a refuge will be a huge benefit. So I certainly see in this timeframe that SmartStax will be a huge competitive advantage for us and drive share growth.

Scarlett Foster

So, Peter, just to go back to your specific share question, last year DEKALB would have been at 25.5 market share points and American Seeds at 10.5. Our commitment has been that we'll grow each year from now through 2012 the DEKALB brand in the U.S. by 1 to 2 market share points and ASI by 1.

In soybeans we were at 20 and our commitment is 1 market share gain point per year.

We've also committed to 1 to 2 market share point gains annually in the large corn growing areas outside of the United States, so places like Brazil and Argentina as well as Europe.

So I think that gives you a projection. To Robb's point, how SmartStax and drought tolerance will ultimately affect that market share growth is still be seen, but that's been our commitment to you.

Hugh Grant

Does that answer it, Peter?

Peter Butler - Glen Hill Investors

Yes. Good news. Good news.

Hugh Grant

Yes. Very proud of the team in this first quarter. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Vincent Andrews - Morgan Stanley.

Vincent Andrews - Morgan Stanley

I'm just wondering if you could maybe comment a little more on corn pricing and maybe blend in how your seven zone pricing structure, which is new this year, what you've learned from that? And the other thing that you maybe could weave in is just as orders improved in December, how important do you think was the rally in corn prices to that improvement in orders?

Hugh Grant

So feedback on the seven zones has been good, a nice expansion from the original three. The segmentation allows growers access to technology that would have thought twice about it before. So I think it's a bold move and, you know, still early days, Vince, but I think it looks good.

In terms of pricing in the marketplace, as I mentioned in my remarks, we've seen some very, very aggressive discounting by some of our competitors, and the last survey that we did, which was in the closing days of December, we've seen significant offers of free seed - literally, of every two growers offered competitive seed, one of them would have been offered a free seed offer.

So we've taken the high ground on this thing as much as we possibly could and really tried to maintain a position where we sell value, and I think in a call like this, where we're talking about future pipeline and we're talking about the value of plant form developments, the zone-based pricing, the introduction of SmartStax, the loading of drought tolerant technology in [inaudible] SmartStax, they all, I think, delve towards the improvement in the value that we deliver to farms. And coincidentally, as Terry mentioned, the uptick, we're talking about a 3% uptick on margins, so we're selling good stuff and we're making margin improvements as we do.

I don't know if you'd care to add to that, Terry?

Terry Crews

Well, I just think, Vince, relative to where we think pricing would go, I believe for corn what we're going to look at is mid to high 20s in terms of a price movement. Overall broadly we were up about 20% in the first quarter due to price, but that's a blend of the U.S. business and the Brazilian business.

Vincent Andrews - Morgan Stanley

Can I just clarify that? When you're saying, Terry, that you're going to be up mid to high 20s% in corn, are you talking about in Corn, Seeds and Traits or just in traits?

Terry Crews

The combination. In the combination of Seeds and Traits.

Vincent Andrews - Morgan Stanley

And had you previously given a number?

Terry Crews

No. That's just a combination of some previous numbers we've talked about relative to traits combined with seeds.

Vincent Andrews - Morgan Stanley

Let me just ask it this way: Is that number above or below what you'd previously communicated?

Terry Crews

No, it's in line. It's consistent with what we've previously communicated.

Hugh Grant

I guess the other backstop in this, Vince, would be seeing our triples running at that 70% mark. Because in a very competitive, aggressive market, from a very early stage as our other book developed, we saw triples surging ahead. And we've seen the same thing with technology adoption in Brazil, where even in tough times the farmer's always going to reach for that best possible technology.

Vincent Andrews - Morgan Stanley

So if I could just ask one last thing, then, if acres are going to go back to soy from corn, what type of corn seed are those going to be? Is that non-biotech corn, are those single stacks? What moves back to bean?

Hugh Grant

My crystal ball says that technology penetration continues to run strong regardless of acres, and it's probably the marginal acres that flip back. And geographically, it's the Southern acres. There was an earlier question on cotton. I think we'll see a lot in the South flipping from corn last year back to soy this year.

But frankly, you know, we're sitting here in the first days of January, and I don't know what it's like in New York, but it's pretty brisk here. So we need to see what the spring brings before we see what goes in the ground. But those would be the kind of rough macro effects.

Operator

Your next question comes from Charlie Rentschler - Wall Street Access.

Charlie Rentschler - Wall Street Access

I just want to say congratulations. Listening to you guys and watching the slide presentation, it's like drinking out of the fire hose, proverbially.

But I had a question - I'm a bit puzzled looking at Slide 9 - about projected soybean seed and trait gross profit going down a little bit from $725 million last year to $700 million this year. I guess the reality, though, is the real launch of Roundup Ready 2 Yield is coming next year, isn't it? I mean, you're starting this year, but the major thrust is in 2010. Is that fair to say?

Robb Fraley

That would be fair to say. This year we're talking about across 1 to 2 million acres of Roundup Ready 2 Yield. And just a comment on that soybean decline. One of the things that I made in comments is that we'd anticipated a lower acreage for soybeans for this year in this plan. That $700 million reflects that lower acreage for soybeans. If in fact we see a shift from corn to soybean back to more what we saw last year, we would not expect to see that decline in soybean gross profit. So it's purely acreage driven, not driven by any fundamental factors in the business.

Charlie Rentschler - Wall Street Access

But the reality then is that for 2010 we can look forward to the launch of two blockbuster products, being SmartStax and Roundup Ready 2 Yield, which Robb said would become the platforms, then, for the next few years?

Robb Fraley

That's correct.

Hugh Grant

Absolutely correct. That's kind of the fire hose that you described.

So, as Robb said, Roundup Ready 2 Yield is to beans what SmartStax is to corn, and they become the two platforms that the future technologies will be [inaudible] off of.

Operator

Your next question comes from Frank Mitsch - BB&T Capital Markets.

Frank Mitsch - BB&T Capital Markets

Terry, when you were talking about Latin America, obviously, a strong start there, but you suggested that your cautious from a credit perspective for the second growing season and you're not going to chase risky business. Is there any way to quantify how concerned you are or what percent of the business for the second growing season you may walk away from?

And sticking with the credit scene, is farmer credit in the U.S. even on your radar screen?

Terry Crews

I'll begin with the last question. Farmer credit's always on our radar screen, but as of right now, given the levels of prepays that we saw through December, we're confident that we're going to get through the season with pretty normal practices for credit in the U.S. But it's something we will continue to watch.

I think relative to Brazil, I just want to say that we're not saying as of today that we're going to be walking away from business in Brazil. It's just that we are pointing out that we will still take a conservative credit approach to business in Brazil, particularly as it relates to Roundup. So the results that we see in the second quarter, we are expecting Brazil to be down in the second quarter some because we benefited in the first quarter, but some portion because we would expect the second season to be smaller and probably smaller consumption of Roundup.

So the decline in whether we walk away from business or not is still to be seen. We'll wait until we get to that second season. I guess we're just laying out the ground rules for which we'll sell in Brazil, and it's the model we've been using for the past three or four years.

Frank Mitsch - BB&T Capital Markets

So there's no major change that you're seeing. You're just remaining prudent, as you typically do.

Terry Crews

Absolutely. That's absolutely right.

Operator

Your next question comes from Laurence Alexander - Jefferies & Co.

Laurence Alexander - Jefferies & Co.

Just a quick question on competitor dynamics and your philosophy on responding to them, and I guess this is two parts. First, with respect to vendor financing, one of your competitors has indicated that they're extending about $1.3 to $1.5 billion of vendor financing and that that's part of their competitive strategy. Can you discuss your strategy with respect to that and whether your credit standards with respect to customers is tightening significantly year-over-year?

And I guess secondly on glufosinate, how should we connect the falling retail price of glufosinate to your pricing strategy for glufosinate going forward? That is, how far do retail prices need to fall for it to impinge on how you price your branded product?

Hugh Grant

Yes, let me just touch on both of these, and I'll maybe ask Terry for a little bit of detail on it.

In terms of vendor financing, I guess the way I'd characterize this at the highest level is if you look over the last few years, I would say that there's been very little change in terms of how we've laid out our stall or how we've conducted our business. The biggest change yearinyear is the continued improvement of technology.

This year we've seen much more aggressive competitor's reaction than we've seen in previous years. And the biggest change, I think, has been some of the deep discounting and some of the free seed orders that have occurred.

In terms of how we've conducted business, I would say that other than the goodwill gesture linked to the very late harvest - and we did that overall - I don't think, Terry, you would say there's been any real change there.

And then in the other piece and then I'll hand it over to Terry, on the second piece of your question - and this often gets lost and I think you touch on it in your question - we sell into retail. Retail sets the price on farm and the level of discount or the market programs that they run is quite literally their business.

I'll maybe ask Terry to put a bit of color around both of those subjects.

Terry Crews

I'll begin just with the credit side. I guess probably the biggest change that we made from a credit standpoint is extending, as Hugh mentioned, as a result of the late season, extending the time of the prepay program. So we did in fact move that prepay program into December and January when previously it'd been November and December.

We have a variety of ways that we provide credit to the channel, to the customers, and we continue to utilize those same tools. And this year and so far, that's been satisfactory to meet the needs for credit. I think the key thing for us is the amount of prepaids as a percent of our total sales is about consistent with where it was last year at this point. Now, in early January it's about consistent with where it was last year, so that gives us confidence that the credit programs are adequate for what's in the marketplace today and for our business for this year.

Relative to the pricing, just as a reminder, we do sell to both growers and retailers. And where retailers go with their pricing is their own decisions, but we've been very consistent in our approach with the programs that we've used in the marketplace this year with what we've used in the past, when you exclude the prepay extension that we mentioned earlier.

Scarlett Foster

Martin, we've extended a few minutes because we always run a little late when we do the R&D, but we have time for just three more quick questions and then we'll turn it back to Hugh.

Operator

Very good, ma'am. Your next question comes from Mark Gulley - Soleil - Gulley & Associates.

Mark Gulley - Soleil - Gulley & Associates

In terms of trying to get a handle on some of these new pipeline projects, things that have advanced, stuff like that, maybe you can talk a little bit about, in connection with your pricing, the value strategy, how you might price some of these really key things that have moved in phase, maybe drought tolerance, maybe refresh our memory on the increased yield gene for soy, to give us a feel for how that's going to work.

Robb Fraley

Thanks for the question, Mark, and we're excited about all the advances. We typically don't do any formal pricing until we're closer to launch, but I think in terms of broad philosophy, you know, these products would fit under the same umbrella approach that we've had, where we look at the substitution economics, the value created, the convenience and performance benefits of a product, and then try to share that value between a third and a half with the grower and retain the residual for Monsanto.

And I think, you know, when you're looking at a drought technology or some of the improvements that we're seeing with the SmartStax technology for bug control and yield, those would fit into that exact same formula.

Operator

Your next question comes from Chris Shaw - UBS.

Chris Shaw - UBS

I just want to ask a little bit more about the prepays in seed because they're up year-over-year. What incentivizes the farmer to prepay? I know in years past there was maybe some people trying to lock in seed when there might have been shortages either on the soy or corn side, depending on what year. But I'm just trying to figure out why that might be up.

Hugh Grant

Well, I guess a piece is tax planning and there's been a lot of cash in the countryside. Terry, the financial incentive?

Terry Crews

Just a couple things. One is really - talking about two points - one is orders improving and the pace of orders picking up in December and January, and that is largely driven by people wanting to lock in particular seeds at that point. The prepay program is really more of a financial management program for the growers. But the encouraging thing for us is when prepays are up, it's usually a good sign because it's very rare that we would ever refund a prepay.

So I think it's both them, two separate indicators, both of them bode well for the U.S. business, the U.S. season coming up.

Robb Fraley

I think just to add one more dimension to it, there is a technology component because certain farmers are going to want a particular seed size or a particular hybrid or a particular availability of a variety in a particular zone and, you know, as the selling season goes on, that availability diminishes. So there's a strong incentive for the growers to get exactly what they want early on so that they can complete their planting schedules for their farm.

Chris Shaw - UBS

And then you mentioned the prepays in Roundup in Brazil. What's the incentive there, just a discount?

Terry Crews

There's a discount and it's part of our credit management in Brazil, as well. And most of those prepays in Brazil, let me remind you, they occurred in the fourth quarter of last year. We actually had them going into the first quarter, which is why we were confident we were going to have a good first quarter.

A tight supply of Roundup also helps that situation, of course.

Scarlett Foster

Martin, if we could go ahead and take the last question, please, and then we'll turn it back to Hugh.

Operator

Your last question comes from Robert Koort - Goldman Sachs.

Robert Koort - Goldman Sachs

Two quick ones. Terry, just a clarification. I think you said through December your deferred payments were up 50% and I think in the financials as of end of November that your deferred revenues were down about 50% year-on-year, so is that explained by that rapid acceleration you mentioned in order pattern?

Terry Crews

It really is a result of the prepay extension, that we actually got cash in in December that we would have normally gotten in in November. So deferred revenues were down, as you've said, as a result of that. So if you looked at the end of December on an apples-to-apples basis, December this year to December last year, we'd be up about 50%.

Robert Koort - Goldman Sachs

Got it. And then if I might briefly, for Robb, when we look at SmartStax, I know there are many farmers that don't plant a full commitment to one company or another, but tend to mix and match a bit on their products. Is it your understanding if you get the refuge reduction that there'll be a terrific incentive for farmers to convert to 100% SmartStax technology so that they can have just one refuge area as opposed to having subplots, some with 5%, some with 20%?

Robb Fraley

Yes, that's what I was indicating. The compelling benefit to be able to lower the refuge from 20% of the farm being sacrificed to bugs to less than 5% on the corn acres, both from an economic and from a convenience at planting in harvest is a huge advantage. So I would expect that that will be a compelling benefit for farmers.

And, you know, in terms of the availability of seed, since we have it both in our DEKALB, our American Seeds and our licensed channel, you know, there will be a lot of available genetics so that farmers can provide different hybrids across their farm.

And, you know, I think the key to SmartStax - and there's a lot of confusion in terms of competitive offerings and other products - the key to SmartStax is that it has the refuge reduction for both the below ground corn rootworm pests and the above ground caterpillars. And that will be what makes it such a compelling benefit to the grower; it solves in a single swoop all of their bug and weed control and provides for a very convenient refuge reduction package for the farmer.

Hugh Grant

So I guess just in closing, we're not officially in the new year with our first quarter. We've fiscally been in the new year for awhile. And 2008 was a year that most of us would really like to put behind us.

I guess from here, having one seat at the table in agriculture, the year, as we looked back, the year started with a food crisis. It flipped from that into massive flooding in the middle of the corn belt, and that led to a late harvest that really rolled into a world economy that was unraveling.

And yet through all that, we've performed against backdrop of the continued need for food, feed, fuel, coupled with the value of technology and the importance of leadership in very, very tough times.

So I know, having heard the comments from many of you, that the last four months have been unsettling, but against the rumors, the discounting, I can tell you that we have and we will hold our pricing and our value, whether that's in Seeds and Traits or in our Roundup business.

I hope that we've given you the milestones and the commitments today that will allow you to view our business the way that we do and that is that we are an agricultural technology company that optimizes our share, our price, and our trait penetration, which in turn drives EPS growth of greater than 20% for the fifth consecutive year in a row. And I'm particularly proud of that, with the team that sit here today.

So thanks very much for your patience. This is always a longer call because we review our pipeline progress. And on behalf of the team here in St. Louis, I'd like to wish you and your families and loved ones all the very best for 2009. Thank you very much.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude the conference call for today. We thank you for your participation and ask that you please disconnect your lines.

Copyright policy: All transcripts on this site are the copyright of Seeking Alpha. However, we view them as an important resource for bloggers and journalists, and are excited to contribute to the democratization of financial information on the Internet. (Until now investors have had to pay thousands of dollars in subscription fees for transcripts.) So our reproduction policy is as follows: You may quote up to 400 words of any transcript on the condition that you attribute the transcript to Seeking Alpha and either link to the original transcript or to www.SeekingAlpha.com. All other use is prohibited.

THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HERE IS A TEXTUAL REPRESENTATION OF THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S CONFERENCE CALL, CONFERENCE PRESENTATION OR OTHER AUDIO PRESENTATION, AND WHILE EFFORTS ARE MADE TO PROVIDE AN ACCURATE TRANSCRIPTION, THERE MAY BE MATERIAL ERRORS, OMISSIONS, OR INACCURACIES IN THE REPORTING OF THE SUBSTANCE OF THE AUDIO PRESENTATIONS. IN NO WAY DOES SEEKING ALPHA ASSUME ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY INVESTMENT OR OTHER DECISIONS MADE BASED UPON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS WEB SITE OR IN ANY TRANSCRIPT. USERS ARE ADVISED TO REVIEW THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S AUDIO PRESENTATION ITSELF AND THE APPLICABLE COMPANY'S SEC FILINGS BEFORE MAKING ANY INVESTMENT OR OTHER DECISIONS.

If you have any additional questions about our online transcripts, please contact us at: transcripts@seekingalpha.com. Thank you!

Source: Monsanto Company F1Q09 (Qtr End 11/30/08) Earnings Call Transcript
This Transcript
All Transcripts