Monsanto Lowers 2016 EPS Guidance

Lower prices, currency volatility, and regulatory delays are all playing a role in the weaker earnings forecast.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 3, 2016
Monsanto Lowers 2016 EPS Guidance

Chemicals maker Monsanto on Wednesday lowered its 2016 earnings guidance due to several variables creating “significant headwinds,” namely, weak foreign currencies; weak prices for generic glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup weed killer; compressed grower margins coming from lower commodity prices; and the recent delay in the EPA label for in-crop use of dicamba, a pesticide.

Monsanto revised its ongoing earnings-per-share guidance to a range of $4.40 to $5.10 for the fiscal year ending August 2016. Fiscal year EPS on as as-reported basis is expected to be $3.42 to $4.29. For the fiscal second quarter, this translates to ongoing EPS expectations of $2.35 to $2.45, with the expected decline versus the prior year primarily driven by glyphosate pricing declines and the Argentine peso devaluation.

Monsanto also reduced its cash-flow guidance for the year by as much as $800 million.

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“It’s clear that 2016 is a tough year for the industry and for the company,” chief technology officer Robb Fraley told Reuters.

But management hopes the St. Louis-based company’s performance will bounce back next year with the broader launch of two key seed products, Intacta and Xtend, in North and South America and on expectations for more stable currency markets, Fraley said. (Currency accounts for an estimated 25 to 30 cents of the reduction in the company’s revised 2016 ongoing EPS outlook, Monsanto said.)

Chief executive Hugh Grant told Reuters that the company does not expect any further job cuts at this time. Monsanto has slashed its workforce by about 16% since late 2015.

Gimmecredit calculated the downward earnings guidance revision to be as much as 17%.

“The earnings warning culprit is, again, currency, but also almost equal in magnitude is weakness in the seeds and genomics segment from EPA approval delays and industry discounting,” Gimmecredit Analyst Carol Levenson wrote.

“The reduction in the cash flow guidance is meaningful and illustrates how imprudent it was to spend $3 billion all at once on an accelerated share repurchase in the first quarter when visibility remains this poor, all a part of [Monsanto’s] decision to ‘evolve’ its capital structure by increasing leverage in order to return more cash to shareholders.”

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