Monsanto's New Seeds Sell Well -- WSJ

By Austen Hufford Features Dow Jones Newswires

Company rides out tough farm economy, as regulators review its takeover by Bayer

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This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (October 5, 2017).

Continued adoption of Monsanto Co.'s latest soybean, cotton and corn products drove quarterly revenue for the seed giant in what it called a challenging agricultural environment.

Last month, forecasters said this year's U.S. harvest will be larger than expected, setting up farmers for another year of low prices.

Monsanto said Wednesday that its sale to German chemical conglomerate Bayer AG was progressing. Bayer's $57 billion deal to create the world's largest supplier of pesticides, seeds and crop genes is expected to close early next year, pending regulatory reviews.

In light of the deal, Monsanto said it wouldn't provide financial guidance for the fiscal year that began last month.

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Monsanto has been introducing soybean varieties that are genetically engineered to resist a more powerful combination of herbicides. The company said more than 20 million U.S. acres were sown with the new seeds in its just-ended fiscal year and that it is anticipating demand for 40 million acres across next year's planting season.

Monsanto's new soybean variety, engineered to resist the herbicide dicamba as well as glyphosate, has been linked to crop damage in parts of the southern U.S. Farmers in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee and other states have reported an estimated 3 million acres of crops allegedly damaged by dicamba drifting from neighboring fields. Some farmers have sued Monsanto.

The St. Louis-based company said it would provide "enhanced training" to farmers and dispense specialized spray nozzles at no cost. It is also adding incentives for farmers to use a new version of the spray that it maintains is more reliable.

For its fiscal fourth quarter ended Aug. 31, Monsanto reported profit of $20 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with a loss of $191 million, or 44 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue grew 4.8% to $2.69 billion, contributing to an 8.4% rise for the full year.

On an adjusted basis, quarterly earnings were 20 cents a share; on the same basis, analysts were expecting a loss of 41 cents. Monsanto said the better-than-expected results were due to tax benefits and a pretax boost of $200 million from corn licenses in Brazil.

Still, Monsanto predicts lower planted corn acres in Brazil as well as challenging corn prices globally.

For cotton, the company saw its latest seed varieties reach more than 6 million acres amid increases in both the U.S. and Australia.

--Jacob Bunge contributed to this article.

Write to Austen Hufford at austen.hufford@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 05, 2017 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)