Apr. 30, 2014, 5:44 PM
- Dow Chemical (DOW) receives preliminary U.S. regulatory approval to sell a new version of its 2,4-D herbicide aimed at stopping the spread of weeds no longer killed by Monsanto's (MON) Roundup.
- The EPA is proposing to allow Dow to market its Enlist Duo herbicide, which includes a new formulation of the 2,4-D chemical, a tougher product than some existing sprays that raised environmental and health concerns.
- The EPA's proposal is the agency's first major ruling on the product since Dow submitted it for review in 2011; the agency will take comments on the proposal over the next 30 days and evaluate them before issuing a final decision.
Apr. 17, 2014, 8:25 AM
- In a 28-2 vote, the Vermont Senate passes a bill that will require packaged food makers to label their products that contain genetically modified organisms ((GMOs)). If the State House of Representatives approves the Senates' changes to the version it passed before sending it the upper chamber, then the law will take effect July 1, 2016.
- Vermont will be the first U.S. state to institute such mandatory labeling.
- Predictably, food manufacturers oppose the bill saying GMOs are ubiquitous on grocery store shelves. The most popular GMO crops are corn, soybeans and canola which are found in almost every kind of packaged food. They say that GMOs are safe and the law, if enacted, will add unnecessary costs and complications for farmers and the food industry.
- Consumer groups believe more safety testing needs to be done by independent researchers.
- Vermont's bill would make it illegal to label a food product containing GMOs as "natural" or "all natural".
- (MON) (PG)
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Apr. 11, 2014, 6:06 PM
- China’s rejection of genetically modified corn is becoming a big problem for exporters: In the first full tally of the impact, a U.S. grain industry group says the rejected shipments have totaled ~1.45M metric tons, far more than the 545K tons China has reported and the 900K tons that has circulated in news media.
- The rejected shipments have cost grain companies $427M from lost sales and reduced prices for China-bound shipments that must be resold elsewhere, and has affected the price of corn and soybeans, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for farmers.
- Big seed companies such as Syngenta (SYT), Monsanto (MON) and DuPont (DD) generally are aligned with traders such as Cargill and ADM in the desire to grow and sell as much grain as possible, but now the two groups are debating who should bear the costs for the rejected shipments.
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Apr. 3, 2014, 8:20 AM
- Monsanto (MON) +1.3% premarket after earning an upgrade to Overweight from Neutral with a $125 price target, up from $115, at J.P. Morgan, which cites a "reasonable possibility" that activist investors could get involved with the company though he has no knowledge of any such intentions.
- Analyst Jeffrey Zekauskas sees several opportunities for value creation at MON, including increasing balance sheet leverage and splitting the company into parts; he notes MON's ag productivity business (Round Up herbicides) is separable from its Seeds and Genomics segment.
- MON reported FQ2 earnings yesterday that topped analyst forecasts but offered flat FY 2014 guidance.
Apr. 2, 2014, 2:29 PM
- Although the USDA projects that U.S. farm acres devoted to corn will decline 4% to 91.7M acres this year, Monsanto (MON +1.2%) anticipates record sales volume in its global corn business this year, partially because of growth in Eastern Europe, company president Begemann says in today's earnings conference call.
- The region is a "30M acre market," and MON has doubled its business there over the last few years, Begemann says.
- MON says its corn portfolio is expanding globally, helping sales of corn seed and traits rise 4% to $3.4B in FQ2, and it sees opportunities for net sales growth of $1B in the business in the next five years due to global demand.
- Analysts' reaction to the quarter was mixed, pointing to weaker than expected growth in herbicide earnings and some disappointment that MON did not raise its guidance.
Apr. 2, 2014, 8:47 AM
- Monsanto (MON) +0.8% premarket after reporting a 13% Y/Y gain in FQ2 earnings, thanks to continued strength in its soybean seed sales as well as improved margins.
- Confirms earlier guidance for FY 2014, seeing EPS of $5.00-$5.20 vs. $5.25 analyst consensus estimate; expects a strong H2 of its fiscal year, with a significantly smaller loss in its Q4 than in recent years.
- Total Seeds and Genomics sales rose 6.9% to $4.65B; growth in the segment represents nearly 80% of MON's overall gross profit increase in the quarter.
- Corn seed and traits sales, which account for most of the segment's revenue, rose 4.1%, while soybean seed and traits sales jumped 21%.
- Sales in the agricultural productivity business, which consists of crop-protection products and herbicide, grew 5.2% to $1.18B.
- Gross margin grew to 59.1% from 56.1%, as product costs edged down 0.7%.
Apr. 2, 2014, 8:02 AM
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Mar. 28, 2014, 2:45 PM
- Monsanto (MON +1.2%) is upgraded to Buy from Hold with a $130 price target, up from $106, at Miller Tabak, noting that the Street is bracing for limited-to-no upside to FY 2014 guidance because of uncertainty over the impact of tightening credit on Ukrainian seed volumes going forward and Brazilian weather impact on Intacta supply availability for next season.
- The firm sees a positive shift in underlying agriculture macro trends enabling MON to bridge the earnings hurdle between recent multi-year highs, Roundup margins, strong seed prices and the next burst of material margin uplift from Intacta and IFS products in FY 2016.
Mar. 16, 2014, 4:53 AM
- France's government has banned Monsanto's (MON) MON 810 genetically modified maize even though the country's highest court has twice struck down similar measures.
- The agriculture ministry timed the latest diktat to prevent any sowing of the maize ahead of a debate on April 10 of a draft law that would ban genetically modified organisms.
- While France would like to ban GMOs in the EU, the bloc is divided on the issue.
Feb. 27, 2014, 11:56 AM
- DuPont (DD +0.3%) says it expects to generate as much as $500M/year in revenue from high-tech farm data services over the coming decade.
- Next month, DD will begin selling to farmers its Encira suite of data-driven services aimed at increasing farmers' yields through analysis of their weather, soil and crop performance.
- DuPont, rival Monsanto (MON +0.5%) and other seed and software companies are investing and striking deals with weather and equipment companies and soil analysis specialists to broaden the range of analysis they are able to deliver for farmers, which can mean more crops per acre and increased revenue at harvest time.
Feb. 20, 2014, 5:47 PM
- DuPont's (DD) seed deliveries from its new $40M seed plant in Ukraine are being slowed by the intensifying violence in the world's third-largest corn exporting country, the president of the company's seed unit says.
- No negative effect on revenue will occur if the delay to seed deliveries is resolved by the end of the planting season in three months, DD says, but a bigger concern is whether credit will still be available.
- Other western companies with significant presence in Ukraine - such as Monsanto (MON), Deere (DE), Glencore (GLCNF) and ADM - either haven't commented or say they're monitoring events.
Feb. 12, 2014, 7:59 AM
- Monsanto (MON) hits another roadblock in its plans to build a $192M corn-seed production plant in Argentina's Cordoba province after local authorities rejected the company's environmental impact assessment.
- MON says it accepts the findings and will move to bring the project in line with the new requirements.
- The project has been on hold since September after clashes with protesters led MON to halt construction after completing ~30% of the work.
Feb. 11, 2014, 2:24 PM
- The EU appears set to approve Europe's second genetically modified crop for cultivation in 15 years, handing a victory to DuPont (DD +1.4%) over objections from most of the EU's member states.
- At a meeting of EU ministers today, 19 out of the bloc's 28 nations opposed approving the 1507 corn developed by DuPont, but that wasn't a big enough majority to prevent the European Commission from approving the corn.
- DuPont first sought approval for the crop 12 years ago but is now on the verge of success after multiple scientific safety reviews and several decisions by the European Court of Justice criticizing the Commission for delaying a decision.
- Only one other genetically modified crop is allowed to be grown in the EU, a corn developed by Monsanto (MON) that is resistant to corn borer; it was approved by the bloc in 1998.
Feb. 6, 2014, 11:56 AM
- The market seems to view DuPont (DD +1.3%) as a stodgy chemical company, but it is one of the world's biggest sellers of seeds, pesticides, fertilizers and other crop protection products; a Barron's profile says shares could climb 20% as investors start to give DuPont credit for those businesses.
- DuPont delivered better than expected Q4 earnings last week, helped by fast-growing sales in its agriculture division; the unit contributed ~40% of 2013 operating profit and is DD's fastest-growing business, with sales that could rise at a double-digit rate during the next few years.
- Compared with companies focused on agriculture chemical products, DD has been trading at a discount, at 14.2x estimated 2014 earnings; investors pay 19x-20x estimated earnings for Monsanto (MON) and Potash (POT).
MON vs. ETF Alternatives
Monsanto Co is a provider of agricultural products for farmers. The Company offers corn, soybean, cotton, wheat, canola, sorghum and sugar cane seeds. Its segments are Seeds and Genomics and Agricultural Productivity.
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