Monsanto (MON)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

October 05, 2011 9:30 am ET


Bryan Corkal -

Pierre Courduroux - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President

Hugh Grant - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of Executive Committee

Bryan Hurley - Director of Investor Relations


Michael Picken - Cleveland Research Company

P.J. Juvekar - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

David L. Begleiter - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Laurence Alexander - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

Michael E. Cox - Piper Jaffray Companies, Research Division

Donald Carson - Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division

Mark W. Connelly - Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc., Research Division

Jeffrey J. Zekauskas - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Kevin W. McCarthy - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Vincent Andrews - Morgan Stanley, Research Division



Greetings, and welcome to the Fourth Quarter 2011 Monsanto Company Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Bryan Hurley, Investor Relations Lead for Monsanto. Thank you. Mr. Hurley, you may begin.

Bryan Hurley

Thanks, Kevin, and good morning to everybody on the line. Thanks for joining Monsanto's Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call.

I'm joined this morning by Hugh Grant, our Chairman and CEO; by Pierre Courduroux, our CFO; and also joining me are Manny Cruz; and our new colleague in Investor Relations, Bryan Corkal.

This call is being webcast and you can access the webcast and supporting slides at The replay will also be available at that address. We're providing you today with EPS measures, both on a GAAP basis and on an ongoing business basis. Where we refer to non-GAAP financial measures, we reconcile to GAAP in the slides and in the press release, both of which are posted on our website.

This call will include statements concerning future events and financial results. Because these statements are based on assumptions and factors that involve risk and uncertainty, the company's actual performance and results may vary in a material way from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statement. A description of the factors that may cause such a variance is included in the Safe Harbor language, in our most recent 10-K and in today's press release.

For today's call, Hugh will walk you through the context for our fiscal year 2011 earnings and then focus on how these results set up our growth into 2012. Here, we'll layout the translation of our growth into our guidance and financial outlook for 2012. With that, let me move directly to Hugh to begin our review today.

Hugh Grant

Thanks, Bryan, and good morning to everybody on the line today. I see the yearend as a punctuation mark for us in fiscal year 2011. It closes out an important year and it puts a final emphasis on the results and execution that we've seen building over the course of the fiscal year. So that's where I want to focus today. But before I get to that, as I did in the last quarter, I'll start with one update on the reporting adjustment noted in our press release today.

As I shared with you on our third quarter conference call, the staff of the SEC is conducting an investigation regarding the financial reporting of our customer incentive programs related to glyphosate products. Following the SEC notification, we initiated our own review, and the audit and finance committee of the board retained independent advisors to conduct a full investigation. As a result of that work, Monsanto will adjust and restate portions of the financial statements from 2009 through 2011. As a result of the pending restatement for the prior financial statements, we don't provide comparisons with our prior financial periods for Ag productivity or total company in today's earnings release. However, we do include the relevant comparisons for the Seeds and Genomics segment.

So let me briefly walk you through the expected changes. First, the adjustments will be made only to Ag productivity. They mainly relate to the accounting treatment and the timing of accruals for annual customer incentive programs for our glyphosate products. These programs had been treated in an individual accounting year and are now associated with other fiscal periods. Ultimately, total revenues and total costs for the company for these years, taken as a whole do not change. All these particular incentive programs are no longer in place. The adjustment on timing of the accounting for them will be reflected across multiple years.

In fiscal year 2009, the adjustment reduces the full year EPS by $0.05 to $0.10 negative. For fiscal year 2010, full year EPS would reflect the change of a negative $0.02 to a positive $0.03, and the fiscal year 2011 ongoing EPS of $2.96 that we are reporting today includes a benefit of $0.05 of EPS change from these accounting adjustments. All of the adjustments will be reflected when we make our 10-K filing later this month. These changes don't affect any prior financial information for the Seeds and Genomics segment.

Importantly, the fiscal 2011 financial information that we're reporting today includes all the adjustments that we're making for the 2011 fiscal year.

As I indicated when I first discussed this last quarter, we take this matter seriously and we'll continue to cooperate fully with the SEC. If you step back from those adjustments, what does it mean for 2011?

Practically, 2011 is a higher base. But given the strong performance in the core of the business this year and the growth opportunity next year, we will grow mid-teens earnings of that higher base in 2012. I'll let Pierre handle the specifics of our guidance. But fundamentally, there's a compounding effect to our guidance as the 2012 growth is additive to a larger 2011. And that actually frames how I see 2011 and how that in turn sets up 2012 which we cover on Slide 5.

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