A decline in sales in its corn seeds and traits business dragged Monsanto’s quarterly earnings below Wall Street estimates as the agribusiness giant moved closer to completing its acquisition by Bayer.
For the second quarter, Monsanto’s total revenues fell 1.1% to $5.02 billion while net income rose 6.6% to $1.46 billion, or $3.27 per share. On an adjusted basis, the company earned $3.22 per share.
Analysts had expected adjusted earnings of $3.30 per share, according to Thomson/Reuters.
Sales in the corn seeds and traits business dropped 6.2% to $2.72 billion while soybean business sales rose 6% to $912 million. Monsanto said corn volumes declined due to a combination of timing and expected lower planted acres in the U.S., and reduced corn prices from continued lower commodity prices in Brazil.
“Despite tough farm economics, we delivered a solid second quarter and are staying disciplined on near-term execution of the business,” Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said in a news release. “We continue to pursue new innovations to benefit modern agriculture, as evidenced by several recent agreements, and we look forward to reaching additional milestones for the merger with Bayer.”
Bernstein senior analyst Jonas Oxgaard said a cold spring in the U.S. delayed seed shipments. “It hasn’t been a normal spring, and because of that, I think we could see farmers trying to switch some of their corn acres to soybeans, because you plant soybeans a month later,” he told Reuters.
Monsanto reported improved glyphosate pricing in the second quarter as well as better pricing and increased acres from its Intacta brand of soybean seeds. It also said its Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean seeds, which are resistant to such weeds as dicamba, are on course to record trait adoption.
“In just the third year of the trait on the market, U.S. farmers are on the way to planting nearly 50 million acres of dicamba-tolerant soy and cotton in 2018, nearly doubling last season’s acreage,” Monsanto President Brett Begemann said. “Based on anticipated market demand, we’re expecting 60 million acres in 2019.”