Monsanto Company Earnings Call Nuggets: Brazil and Portfolio Mix

Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Brazil

Kevin McCarthy – Bank of America Merrill Lynch: My question relates to soybeans in the Brazil and specifically, the nexus between your Intacta launch and the pending litigation on POD or value capture system. So, I’m wondering, if we think about that issue, does it relate strictly to the Roundup Ready 1 soybean technology, that is to say, is there any scenario, under which you will be unable to capture value on the backend for Intacta as you proceed with the launch of that product in coming years?

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Hugh Grant – Chairman, President and CEO: The dispute focus is exclusively on Roundup Ready 1 and within Roundup Ready 1, it focuses on patent life. So, our belief is that patent like the U.S. expires on 2014. Some of the groups in Brazil believe it has expired already and that’s the nexus of the argument. If you kind of kick up the philosophy that I have applied to…

this is the same principle as before, if we can reach a business solution then that would be far more preferable and the overarching principle in this is maintaining the freedom to operate so that we get Intacta launched on time and that we maintain our collection system in Brazil. So, as I cited, the focus is exclusively on one, but the value in Brazil going forward is two things. The value in Brazil going forward is, the incremental yield of Intacta will unlock, number one; and number two, is the amazing corn performance that we’re seeing down there. So, we’d like to clear the decks and get Intacta launched and keep driving our corn business forward.

Kevin McCarthy – Bank of America Merrill Lynch: Then as a quick follow-up, if I may, on Argentina. Is the establishment of the value capture system for biotech soybeans in Argentina dependent on resolving the Brazil situation? Perhaps you could update us briefly on prospects there.

Hugh Grant – Chairman, President and CEO: No, they are not linked. We’re making good progress. In fact, compared to the last 10 years, I’m very encouraged with the progress that we’re making in Argentina and as growers have seen this four bushel or four bushel plus yield increment, there’s a lot of appetite for it. So, I think we’re seeing more movement in Argentina in the last 6 to 12 months than we saw in the last decade, but it isn’t linked to anything that’s happening in Brazil today…

Portfolio Mix

Mark Connelly – CLSA: I’m thinking back to what you said, Hugh, about vegetables becoming the number three part of your portfolio over the next couple of years and as we look at this pipeline, we see vegetables come up multiple times. Should we think about the vegetable opportunity as a series of discrete big product opportunities like broccoli or like tomatoes, or should we think of it more as taking the wholesome in this line and upgrading it in more of an evolutionary sense?

Hugh Grant – Chairman, President and CEO: Yes, it’s more of the latter than the former, Mark. I think there’s half a dozen crop species that we’re really putting the (paddle or metal) with; but I don’t think it’s blockbusters as much as it’s discreet breathing improvements across the half a dozen species. But compared to how we started, you go back a year and you look at how we started last year and this year, I feel a lot better about the trajectory on vegetables this year than a year ago.

A Closer Look: Monsanto Company Earnings Cheat Sheet>>