CEO Of The Year Nominees: 9) Hugh Grant Of Monsanto (MON)

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24/7 Wall St. will name its annual CEO of the Year next week. The executive will be picked from a field of ten which we will profile this week

The CEOs are chosen on the basis of their company’s stock market and financial performances compared with their own industry groups and all large companies traded on US markets. Only firms with market caps of more than $5 billion were considered. 24/7 reviewed revenue growth, operating margins, balance sheets, return on assets, and return on equity.

The economy is in recession. That does not seem to bother Monsanto (MON). It has just affirmed its forecast that it will double its fiscal 2007 gross profit by 2012. Hugh Grant described the company’s plans: "To meet this need, we do not have to tear down rainforests to put more acres into production. If Brazil, India and Mexico corn yields could be brought to 100 bushels per acre — two-thirds the level of U.S. corn yields — we could produce another 4 billion bushels of corn annually, the equivalent of the world’s total corn exports in 2007. Our focus as a company is to reduce the complexity of technology into the simple delivery mechanism of the seed."

Monsanto is already powering that increased yield with its R&D driven agricultural products. Some of these are controversial, but the global need for food, especially in a rapidly falling economy is trumping that. To some extent, Monsanto has waited out many of its critics while delivering superior results. S&P recently upgraded the company citing high demand for Monsanto’s seeds and herbicides and a strong market position for the ratings change.

In the last quarter, Monsanto’s sales rose 35% and it upped its forecasts. Hugh Grant has run the company for five years and has barely missed a beat.

Douglas A. McIntyre