Monsanto Company Earnings Call Nuggets: Gross Profit Guidance and Glyphosate

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

Gross Profit Guidance

Don Carson – Susquehanna Financial Group: Question on your gross profit guidance. You’ve gone up $50 million to a $100 million from your previous guidance, yet Roundup has gone up by more than that. So I’m just wondering what’s happening in the Seeds and Genomics business; is the Brazilian loss larger than you thought on the last quarter? And then just, how sustainable is this surge in Roundup?

Hugh Grant – Chairman, President and CEO: Two or three questions in there, Don. I maybe ask Pierre give a little bit color on gross profit, but overall delighted with global cotton performance, better softness in Brazilian beans, but completely in line with what we anticipated in the first quarter. And then I’ll maybe come back and say a little bit on Roundup as well. But Pierre, on the Seed side?

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Pierre Courduroux – SVP and CFO: Regarding our Seeds gross profit and looking at the second half of the year, I mean, the way I’m thinking about that is to position it within a year where we’re going to for the third year grow earnings by 20%, and a year where at this point in time nothing has been planted yet in the U.S. Regarding the second half, specifically, we expect the key drivers of growth that we saw in the first half to continue and prevail. So, our productivity is still being strong, and obviously our corn business driving growth. And the point which I want to make here is that if you normalize the second half of the year for the impact of Roundup Ready 1 in Brazil, knowing that a large part of the $0.20 to $0.25 of EPS that we excluded from our guidance would be coming in the second half. So, if you normalize our numbers for the large part of that Roundup Ready 1, and also remember that, the cotton acres that we’ve been projecting this year – and cotton is an event that we sell mostly in Q3, we’ve been anticipating a reduction of those cotton acres of 2 million to 3 million acres in the U.S. So, if you take all of those elements together, actually the second half, we are projecting represents a fairly nice growth coming from the key drivers that that we have seen in the first half, including corn in Ag Productivity.

Hugh Grant – Chairman, President and CEO: Just thanks Pierre. So, we’re pleased with where we are. We’ll feel better when we get some seeds in the ground done. On the glyphosate piece real briefly, just to put it in context, so it’s tracking well with the strategy that we had laid out. We’ve seen some price increases this year. Glyphosate would now run, that would now be tracking in $10 to $12 a gallon range and would be on the upper end of that $10 to $12. And Brett maybe just a little bit color on how the 300 million gallons is panning up…

Brett D. Begemann – President and CCO: Yeah. Exactly, and as our approach has been for the last few years with our new strategy is to focus on selling about 300 million gallons a year and we are very much on track to do that. Also the emphasis of moving as much as we can to our branded business versus third party sales, and that continues in a favorable margin. I’d also add on the Ag Productivity, specifically the Roundup side that what we are really seeing from acid prices in China is a range of $4 to $5 and something on that acid which is substantially less volatility than what we saw years ago. So, I feel good about our strategy and how it’s playing out, recognize that there can be some volatility there, but not like what we’ve seen in historical patterns.

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Jeff Zekauskas – JPMorgan: If I can start with one more on glyphosate, have you sold more than half of your volume, more than 150 million gallons so far in the first half or less?

Hugh Grant – Chairman, President and CEO: We would have sold more than the halfway mark in the first half.

Jeff Zekauskas – JPMorgan: Secondly, when would you need Chinese approval for Intacta in order to ship for the second Brazilian soybean season?

Hugh Grant – Chairman, President and CEO: Jeff, we would, as a rule of thumb, if we had it before fiscal year end, so the backend August, we’d be feeling good for this year. The first year is going to be small shipments, are relatively small shipments and we are but getting it over the line before fiscal year end close would be good news.

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