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TheStreet Open House

Planting Optimism in Monsanto

Stocks in this article: MONDDSYT

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I know full well that saying anything remotely positive about Monsanto (MON) will likely get me in trouble. But, frankly, I can't resist.

I get that there are ongoing controversies surrounding this company -- from Monsanto's genetically enhanced seeds to what many believe are the company's unfair pricing tactics, which has soured the company's relationship with farmers. But things are getting better.

Contrary to what several readers believe, I've never discounted that these matters were real. In fact, I've been a huge advocate and a facilitator of these sorts of discussions. However, unlike most, I also understand there are always two sides to every story.

In these accounts, I don't believe that Monsanto has received a fair trial in the court of public opinion. The company's recent third-quarter earnings report serves as perfect evidence.

The headlines all read that Monsanto's fiscal third-quarter profits dropped 3% -- the company missed revenue estimates, etc -- I get it. But what I also get is that Monsanto is honoring its word and commitment to restoring the soured relationships with farmers.

Case in point: Because of the severe drought in 2012 that adversely impacted the soil in several parts of the United States, which hurt the company's seed business, Monsanto was forced to utilize South American greenhouses to produce corn seeds. The impact of this decision was felt this quarter to the extent of a 7% increase in the cost of goods sold.

Instead of passing on this extra 7% cost to farmers, which would have been a standard business maneuver, Monsanto opted to absorb the higher expenses tied to seed production. Monsanto understands that if it needs to repair relationships with farmers and customers around the globe, this was a worthwhile investment.

Disappointingly, however, nobody has pointed out this fact. I don't expect this gesture will be accepted by activists as the sort of "olive branch" that it is. Sadly, even those who report on this will spin it into a "public relations stunt." But ask the farmers whose costs weren't increased how that so-called "PR stunt" is itemized on their bottom line.

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