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.
Let's not forget, when Monsanto issued guidance during the second-quarter announcement in April, management fully expected to gain share and actually raised both revenue and earnings-per-share guidance, while also affirming its outlook for free cash flow. So the miss on revenue and the slight drop in profits should be appreciated far more than they are. For a company that is worth billions of dollars, Monsanto is often called to defend itself for its success. But in this case, choosing better relationships over profits, the company was willing to sacrifice earnings to make an investment in its future. I believe it is these sorts of gestures that should resonate with those that despise Monsanto. Human beings are actually running this company. Who knew? It seems pointless to continue with the rest of the report. But overall, Monsanto's earnings dropped from $937 million in the third-quarter of 2012 to $909 million this quarter. There was virtually no revenue growth to speak of this quarter, whereas in last year's quarter the company posted 17% growth. DD) and Syngenta ( SYT), I don't believe they can match Monsanto's pipeline. Fundamentally, the company remains solid from the standpoint of revenue growth and financial position and it has reasonable levels of debt. Investors looking for exposure to agriculture should really consider this name. This is a well-managed company that can post some strong long-term gains with some operational improvements. At the time of publication, the author held no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Follow @saintssense This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.