DuPont (NYSE:DD) shares fell 2 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday as the company reported that its earnings per share this year would fall short of initial expectations. The company now expecting to earn $4.00 – $4.10 per share excluding extra items, and we should point out that the company expects to take a $0.20/share restructuring charge this year as it expects to be able to save approximately $1 billion as a result during the next 5 years.
With the stock down after running over 25 percent in the past year, is this a buying opportunity or a warning sign?
Investors should note the particular reason why DuPont is revising its earnings expectations downward. The revised expectation comes predominantly from one segment: agricultural products and seeds. The company expects that revenue from sales of corn seeds to be down. Furthermore, while U. S. soybean plantings will be up this year, DuPont will be missing out on much of this because it is transitioning to a new genetically modified soybean seed.
While the company is claiming that this disappointment is a one-time event we should keep in mind that DuPont’s counterpart — Monsanto (NYSE:MON) — has been outperforming in the seed and pesticide sector, and while I think that Monsanto shares have run too far, it is clear that Monsanto is outcompeting DuPont.
We should note that around the turn of the century, Monsanto transformed its business from a diversified chemical manufacturer — much like DuPont — to a company focused on genetically modified seeds. DuPont is now seeing how well Monsanto has performed and it appears to want to emulate its rapidly growing competitor. The trouble is that Monsanto had a head start, and this is crucial in a technology driven industry such as biotechnology.