Monsanto Company (MON) Outpaces Q2 Expectations As Seed Business Prospers

Iowa Corn Farm 2008
A corn farm in Iowa. Reuters

Agricultural giant Monsanto Corp. (NYSE:MON) outpaced Wall Street's expectations for the second straight quarter, prompting the St. Louis-based global company and independent analysts to predict that growth will continue through Aug. 31, which is the end of its fiscal year 2014.

The company reported Wednesday that the growth was led by significant revenue increases in its seed categories during the key pre-growing season second quarter that ended Feb. 28.

Monsanto’s earnings rose 13 percent to $1.67 billion, up from $1.48 billion in the same period last year, delivering $3.15 per share, a rise of 15 percent from 2013’s $2.73 per share. Revenue was up 6.6 percent, rising from less than $5.5 billion in the second quarter of 2013 to more than $5.8 billion. As of March 28, Reuters analysts were expecting Monsanto to report second-quarter EPS of $3.06.

The better-than-anticipated numbers led analysts polled by Thompson Reuters EIKON to predict that the company’s third-quarter earnings per share would rise by 8.7 percent from less than $1.7 million last year to more than $1.8 million. 

Monsanto’s Seed and Genomics segment brought in nearly 80 percent of the growth contributing to the company’s $3.4 billion in overall gross quarterly profit. Corn seed was the largest net sales driver, equaling the company’s overall gross profit at $3.4 billion, up from less than $3.3 billion the year earlier, while soybean seed sales jumped from $677 million to a record $820 million. Cotton seed was the only seed category to see a drop in sales, from $60 million last year to $49 million.

"This is a year where we wanted to see the seed business deliver as a prime growth engine, and that's exactly what we see in this second-quarter checkpoint," Hugh Grant, CEO and chairman of Monsanto, said in a conference call with investors Wednesday morning.

As of 1:28 p.m. EDT, Monsanto stock had climbed 1.3 percent to $115.06. It closed at $114.38 and hit $114.79 after hours.

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