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BUSINESS & SEEDS: Monsanto goes on the offensive



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   MONSANTO GOES ON THE OFFENSIVE

SOURCE:  St. Louis Business Journal

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/morning_call/2013/12/monsanto-confronts-detractors.html

DATE:    04.12.2013

SUMMARY: "Monsanto Co., which for years has chosen not to take on critics of its genetically modified seeds and of biotech in general, is making moves to improve its image."

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MONSANTO GOES ON THE OFFENSIVE

Monsanto Co., which for years has chosen not to take on critics of its genetically modified seeds and of biotech in general, is making moves to improve its image.

The company has made changes to its senior public relations staff and strengthened its relationship with PR firm FleishmanHillard, among other measures, Politico reports.

Monsanto officials confirmed to Politico that Gerald Steiner, executive vice president of sustainability and corporate affairs, retired this fall after more than 30 years with the company and was replaced by Jesus Madrazo, former head of its international corporate affairs operation.

According to the Holmes report, Monsanto recently ramped up its relationship with St. Louis-based FleishmanHillard, one of the largest public relations firms in the U.S., Politico reports.

Monsanto has been "absolutely riveted and focused on giving technology and tools to farmers to improve their productivity and yield and we haven't spent nearly the time we have needed to on talking to consumers and talking to social media and really intercepting this" criticism of biotech, Robert Fraley, the St. Louis-based company's executive vice president and chief technology officer, told Politico.

Monsanto also participates in GMO Answers, a website the Council for Biotechnology Information launched in September as part of an industrywide effort to defend biotech, Politico reports.

Meanwhile, the battle over genetically modified food labeling has drawn almost $85 million in campaign donations in little more than a year from companies such as Monsanto and DuPont.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   MONSANTO LOSS WIDENS, ANNOUNCES $930M ACQUISITION

SOURCE:  SFGate

AUTHOR:  Matthew Perrone

URL:     http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Monsanto-4th-qtr-loss-widens-as-seed-sales-decline-4862367.php

DATE:    03.10.2013

SUMMARY: "Agricultural business giant Monsanto Co. reported worse-than-expected losses for its fiscal fourth quarter on Wednesday, due to lower sales of its genetically engineered seeds.

"

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MONSANTO LOSS WIDENS, ANNOUNCES $930M ACQUISITION

Agricultural business giant Monsanto Co. reported worse-than-expected losses for its fiscal fourth quarter on Wednesday, due to lower sales of its genetically engineered seeds.

The company forecast for fiscal 2014 also came in below Wall Street expectations, and it revealed plans to buy farming software and data firm The Climate Corporation. The combination sent shares lower in morning trading.

Monsanto said separately it would pay $930 million in cash for the Climate Corporation, which was founded in 1996 by engineers from Google and other Silicon Valley companies. The company's technology uses weather forecasting and data analysis to help farmers plan their growing seasons.

Company executives said the purchase is part of a broader strategy to combine the company's biotechnology with the emerging field of agriculture-focused information technology.

"Looking into the future, growers will need every available tool to produce more yield on the same acre," said CEO Hugh Grant, during a call with analysts. "Strategically, we believe we're putting the best in class analytical capability on the largest global agricultural footprint."

Grant said Monsanto would integrate Climate Corp's technology into its Integrated Farming Systems business, a computer-based system designed to help farmers increase production.

Executives noted the advantages of marketing such software-based products, which can be continuously updated and resold without much oversight. That contrasts with the company's genetically-engineered seed business, which is subject to strict regulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other government agencies throughout the world.

The St. Louis company recorded a loss of $249 million, or 47 cents per share, for the quarter ended Aug. 31. That was wider than its loss of $264 million, or 42 cents per share, in the 2012 fourth quarter. Revenue climbed 5 percent to $2.2 billion, from $2.1 billion last year.

Analysts, on average, expected a loss of 43 cents per share, on sales of $2.26 billion, according to data provider FactSet.

The fourth quarter is generally Monsanto's weakest, because it occurs before farmers buy new seed for the next planting season.

The company's performance was hurt by a steep drop in sales of genetically modified soybean seeds, which fell 38 percent to $87 million. That drop was offset by higher sales of the company's best-selling product, genetically modified corn seeds, which rose 5.1 percent to $618 million. But overall seed sales still edged lower to $1.19 billion for the quarter.

For the full fiscal year Monsanto posted net income of $2.48 billion, or $4.60, up 21 percent from fiscal year 2012.

Looking ahead, Monsanto said it expects to report earnings per share of $5 to $5.20 in fiscal 2014, including 14 cents from its planned acquisition of the Climate Corporation.

Analysts were looking for $5.31 in earnings per share for fiscal 2014, on average.

Company shares fell 1.91 to $103.14 in midday trading, recovering from a low of $101.79 earlier in the session. The stock started the day up 11 percent since the start of the year and near the top end of its 52-week trading range of $82.70 to $109.33.

Monsanto, which has dominated the bioengineered-seed business for more than a decade, reiterated its expectation for ongoing earnings growth in the "mid-teens" for fiscal 2014, based on the company's international growth.

In June, Chinese regulators approved the importation of Monsanto's Intacta soybeans, the first variety of the bean that has been genetically modified to repel pests that eat the crop. The new soybean is rolling out in Brazil this season and will be available in Argentina the following year. Both countries are major exporters to China. Intacta is the company's first product specifically designed for use outside the U.S.

The company's biotech seeds have genetically engineered traits that the company says benefit farmers enough that they come out ahead, despite the seeds' higher cost.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   MONSANTO TO REPORT 4Q RESULTS

SOURCE:  NBC News

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.nbcnews.com/id/53156158/ns/business-us_business/

DATE:    03.10.2013

SUMMARY: "Monsanto Co. will offer investors an update on its expansion into developing markets like Asia and South America when it reports its fourth-quarter results Wednesday morning even as the agricultural giant faces government scrutiny at home. "

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MONSANTO TO REPORT 4Q RESULTS

Monsanto Co. will offer investors an update on its expansion into developing markets like Asia and South America when it reports its fourth-quarter results Wednesday morning even as the agricultural giant faces government scrutiny at home.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Signs that Monsanto is accelerating sales in emerging economies like Brazil, Argentina and China.

In June, Chinese regulators approved the importation of Monsanto's Intacta soybeans, the first variety of the bean that has been genetically modified to repel insects. The new soybean is expected to roll out in Brazil next season and Argentina the year after. Both countries are major exporters to China.

Monsanto, which has dominated the bioengineered-seed business for more than a decade, has said it expects international sales to account for half of its growth in biotech seeds for fiscal 2013. Its corn and soybean seeds have genetically engineered traits that the company says benefit farmers enough that they come out ahead, despite the seeds' higher cost.

The company has indicated it expects ongoing earnings growth in the "mid-teens" for fiscal 2014, based on the company's international growth.

Meanwhile, Monsanto continues to face negative scrutiny from both consumers and government officials at home.

There is no substantive scientific evidence to show that foods grown from engineered seeds are less safe than their conventional counterparts, but several state legislatures are considering bills that would require them to be labeled so consumers know what they are eating. Consumers have shown increasing interest in avoiding genetically modified foods, even though most corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. already contain genetically modified traits.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently investigating the discovery of a strain of Monsanto's genetically modified wheat in a farmer's field in Oregon. No genetically engineered wheat has been approved for U.S. farming, and the department is investigating how the modified wheat got in the field.

WHY IT MATTERS: Monsanto has bet its future on its biotech seed business.

The company historically sold chemicals, from pharmaceuticals to pesticides, and most of its agricultural business had been driven by chemicals like the herbicide Roundup. But Roundup isn't the cash cow it used to be, in part because competition from generic products from China and other nations has dragged down the price Monsanto can charge.

Expanding sales of its newer, patented seeds to markets like Brazil, Argentina and China is key to Monsanto's growth.

WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts polled by FactSet expect Monsanto to report a loss of 43 cents per share on sales of $2.26 billion for the quarter.

LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: The St. Louis-based company posted a loss of 44 cents per share on revenue of $2.11 billion.