St. Louis agricultural biotech giant Monsanto said Wednesday its FQ4 loss widened to $210 million ($0.39/share) from $144 million ($0.27/share) last year, partially due to charges from its recent acquisition of Delta and Pine Land's cotton business. Its shares dropped 5.8% to $84.35 in pre-market trading after the company's 2008 EPS guidance fell short of expectations. Adjusted losses were $0.18/share, a penny worse than the $0.17 consensus analyst estimate. Sales climbed 13% to $1.57 billion from $1.39 billion, just short of $1.62 billion estimates, partially due to strong corn seed revenue in Brazil and Argentina. Monsanto said it forecasts full-year 2008 earnings of $2.20 to $2.40 a share, reflecting a growth rate of 10% to 20%. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had been projecting 2008 EPS of $2.50. In a Oct. 3 note, Jefferies & Co. told investors, "As a global leader in agriculture biotech, Monsanto provides investors a play on secular trends in favor of increasing farm productivity while curtailing consumption of energy, water, herbicides, and insecticides." The firm has a $100 target on the shares, and said a post-earnings dip would present a buying opportunity ahead of the firm's Nov. 8 investor day.
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