Monsanto Excels on Earnings

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Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) reported second-quarter fiscal 2014 results before markets opened Wednesday. The fertilizer and seed maker reported adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $3.15 on revenue of $5.83 billion. In the same period a year ago, Monsanto reported adjusted diluted EPS of $2.73 on revenue of $5.47 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $3.07 and $5.8 billion in revenue.

Expectations for the second quarter were sky-high, both at the company and among analysts, and Monsanto managed to top those expectations. Revenues were up in all its seeds and genomics segments except cotton. The company’s productivity division revenues also rose 5.2%. But hopes were higher. Perhaps the company’s conference call will generate more enthusiasm.

Monsanto reaffirmed fiscal year 2014 EPS guidance of $5.00 to $5.20, which includes a charge of about $0.14 a share for the Climate Corporation acquisition. The company also reaffirmed its free cash flow guidance in a range of $600 million to $800 million, and includes the $930 million in cash it paid for Climate Corporation and Monsanto’s recent alliance with Novozymes.

The consensus estimate for fiscal year 2014 EPS is $5.26, and revenues are forecast at $15.96 billion. Those numbers are slightly below analyst estimates from the beginning of the fiscal year, when EPS was forecast at $5.33 and revenues were forecast at $16.11 billion.

Monsanto shares were up about 0.3% in premarket trading Wednesday, at $114.30 in a 52-week range of $94.00 to $117.50. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $130.40 before the report.

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