Monsanto Co. (MON) announced on Wednesday the results from its fiscal fourth quarter that showed a widening loss and sales that came up short of analyst predictions as sales from the company’s Seeds and Genomics segment decreased. Meanwhile, the agricultural product giant said that it was spending $930 million to buy farm analytics company The Climate Corp.
For the quarter ended August 31, Creve Coeur, Missouri-based Monsanto reported revenue of $2.20 billion, up 5 percent from $2.10 billion in the same quarter of 2012. Diluted earnings for the quarter was $249 million, or 47 cents per share, versus a net loss of $229 million, or 42 cents per share, in the year prior quarter.
Wall Street expected a net loss of 43 cents per share on revenue of $2.26 billion.
The company’s sales in its Seeds and Genomics segment declined from $1.20 billion in the 2012 quarter to $1.19 billion. Within that group, corn seed and traits improved from $588 million to $618 million. Sales of Monsanto’s genetically modified soybean seeds declined from $142 million in last year’s quarter to $87 million in the recent one. Total agricultural productivity helped boost sales, climbing rom $2.1 billion last year to $2.2 billion.
However, operating expenses rose from $1.14 billion to $1.2 billion.
Monsanto chairman and chief executive Hugh Grant remained optimistic, saying, “The strength of our broad global portfolio enabled us to deliver a third consecutive year of strong business results, and by building off our proven strategy we're confident the key elements are in place to carry that momentum through to achieve strong business growth in 2014.”
Separately, the company announced that it will pay $930 million in cash for San Francisco-based Climate Corp., a technology company that was the product of Google and other Silicon Valley engineers in 1996. Climate uses technology to help farmers with growing seasons based upon weather forecasts and data analysis. Monsanto plans to incorporate the data products into its FieldScripts precision planting platform to provide farmers with weather stats and agronomic data, which is slated for launch in 2014.
“The acquisition is expected to expand on The Climate Corporation’s leadership in the area of data science, which represents the agriculture sector’s next major breakthrough, and will immediately expand both the near- and long-term growth opportunities for Monsanto’s business and Integrated Farming Systems platform,” Monsanto said in a statement today.
CEO Grant’s aforementioned optimism didn’t translate to a rosy outlook in Wall Street’s eyes. In fiscal year 2014, Monsanto expects to achieve EPS of $5.00 to $5.20 after approximately $0.14 of dilution related to The Climate Corp. acquisition. Analysts were expecting earnings of $5.31 per share.
Investors initially focused on the earnings miss and soft guidance, sending shares to three-week lows at $101.78 before recovering to end the day at $104.04 for losses of only 0.96 percent on the day. So far in 2013, shares of MON are up about 12 percent and twice fought resistance at $108.