Muddy Results from Monsanto

The agricultural giant's loss widens and its guidance falls short of forecasts.
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Seed giant

Monsanto

(MON)

sewed a wider fiscal fourth-quarter loss and offered a fiscal 2007 guidance short of expectations, sending shares sliding Wednesday.

For the quarter ended Aug. 31, the St. Louis-based company reported a loss of $144 million, or 27 cents a share, widened from $125 million, or 23 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding discontinued operations, the latest quarter's loss totaled $138 million, or 25 cents a share.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call projected a loss of 21 cents a share.

Monsanto's sales rose to $1.39 billion from $1.27 billion, above Wall Street's forecast of $1.34 billion. Sales declined, however, in Monsanto's seed and genomics business, which the company said weighed on its bottom line.

For 2007, Monsanto projects earnings of $1.50 to $1.57 a share, representing 15% to 20% growth over fiscal 2006 "ongoing" earnings of $1.31. Analysts, on average, target earnings of $1.62 a share for the year ending next August.

Monsanto shares were down $2.91, or 6.3%, to $43.50 in early trading.