Monsanto Company Earnings: Swing to a Loss After Two Straight Profit Quarters

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component Monsanto Company’s (NYSE:MON) fourth quarter loss narrowed, beating estimates. Monsanto manufactures agricultural products that provide farmers with solutions that improve productivity and reduce costs, including seeds and herbicides.

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Monsanto Company Earnings Cheat Sheet for the Fourth Quarter

Results: Loss narrowed to $112 million (loss of 21 cents per diluted share) from $143 million (loss of 26 cents per share) in the same quarter a year earlier.

Revenue: Rose 15.1% to $2.25 billion from the year earlier quarter.

Actual vs. Wall St. Expectations: MON reported an adjusted net loss of 22 cents per share. By that measure, the company beat the mean analyst estimate of a loss of 27 cents per share. It beat the average revenue estimate of $1.89 billion.

Quoting Management: Comment from Monsanto Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant: “As we bring this year to a very successful close and look at what’s to come, it’s clear that we have turned a corner and returned to growth mode. We made a conscious effort to reconnect with our customers, and from that earned significant sales growth for seeds and traits and created positive momentum we carry into 2012. Through the combination of advanced product platforms, a more balanced business and increasingly global opportunities, I believe we have the essential elements in place to achieve mid-teens growth in fiscal year 2012.”

Key Stats:

The company has now topped analyst estimates for the last four quarters. It beat the mark by 15 cents in the third quarter, by 3 cents in the second quarter, and by one cent in the first quarter.

Revenue has risen the past four quarters. Revenue increased 21.2% to $3.59 billion in the third quarter. The figure rose 6.1% in the second quarter from the year earlier and climbed 7.8% in the first quarter from the year-ago quarter.

MON’s loss in the latest quarter follows profits in the previous three quarters. The company reported a profit of $680 million in the third quarter, a profit of $1.02 billion in the second quarter and $6 million in the first.

Looking Forward: Analysts appear increasingly negative about the company’s results for the next quarter. The average estimate for the first quarter of the next fiscal year has moved down from 7 cents a share to 5 cents over the last seven days. For the fiscal year, the average estimate has been unchanged at $2.87 a share.

Competitors to Watch: Syngenta AG (NYSE:SYT), The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. (NYSE:SMG), The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW), FMC Corporation (NYSE:FMC), The Mosaic Company (NYSE:MOS), American Vanguard Corp. (NYSE:AVD), Potash (NYSE:POT), CF Industries Hldgs., Inc. (NYSE:CF) and Origin Agritech Ltd. (NASDAQ:SEED).

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(Source: Xignite Financials)