According to a report from Bloomberg, agricultural giant Monsanto Co. reported blow out fiscal first-quarter earnings and revenue. The often-controversial GMO firm benefited from strong sales of its newest soybean variety that is genetically modified to withstand South American pests.
Profit (excluding one-time items) was reported at a solid 47 cents a share for the November quarter, St. Louis-headquartered Monsanto noted in a press release on Wednesday. The firm’s quarterly EPS of $0.47 dusted the 35-cent average consensus analyst estimate. Of note, revenue fell to $2.87 billion from $3.14 billion, but was still well above the $2.8 billion average estimate from analysts.
The firm also reiterated its full-year earnings forecast (excluding one-time items) of $5.75 to $6 a share. The average analyst EPS estimate was $5.87.
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Monsanto also offered new guidance, saying that sales of its new Intacta soybeans will at least quadruple in the current fiscal year.
The company further noted that first-quarter net income was down to 50 cents a share from 69 cents same quarter last year. Intacta sales allowed the firm to report a 48% increase in soybean-seed revenue for the quarter, but corn-seed sales were off 12%.
Statement from analyst
“Intacta was obviously a big benefit in soybeans because they exceeded expectations there,” noted Chris Shaw, an analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co., who has a hold rating on the shares, in a phone interview Wednesday.
Monsanto’s revised 2015 spending plan
However, despite strong Intacta sales, the firm cut its projection for full-year gross profit growth in the seeds unit to a “high single digits” percentage from an earlier projection of “double digits.”
Based on the current situation, Monsanto said it has revised full-year base operating spending to be flat or slightly down compared with its previous guidance for an increase that paced inflation.
Corn prices are still down by about half since their 2012 peak, and current forecasts call for record global harvests of corn this year. Soybean prices are also down somewhat. Grain prices indirectly impact Monsanto as cheaper commodities reduced U.S. farmer income by 21% in 2014, according to Department of Agriculture estimates.
Also of note, Monsanto continues its repurchasing up to $10 billion of stock under a two-year program announced over the summer. The stock buyback is part of an effort to double the firm’s EPS in the next five years.