Monsanto Co. shares fell 2.3% in premarket trading Wednesday, after the agriculture giant missed profit and sales expectations and unveiled a restructuring plan as it struggles to cope with a downturn in the sector. Monsanto said it had a net loss of $495 million, or $1.06 a share, in its fiscal fourth quarter, after a loss of $156 million, or 31 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Sales fell to $2.4 billion from $2.6 billion. The FactSet consensus was for a loss of just 2 cents a share and sales of $2.8 billion. "We will continue to focus on executing on key milestones within our core seeds and traits business, and we plan to remain disciplined in our agricultural productivity strategy, drive further optimization in spend through strategic restructuring actions and accelerate our progress toward our targeted capital structure," Chief Executive Hugh Grant said in a statement. The company is planning a series of cost cuts, including 2,600 job cuts over the next 18 to 24 months. The first phase of the restructuring aims to save $275 million to $300 million by end fiscal 2017, at a cost of about $850 million to $900 million. The company is also planning a $3 billion accelerated share buyback program. Shares have fallen 27% in the year so far, while the S&P 500 is down 3.4%.
Copyright © 2015 MarketWatch, Inc.