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Monsanto losses triple on drought in US

(Monday, Nov. 4, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- Financial Times, 10/31/02: Monsanto, the agrochemical group, yesterday reported third-quarter sales had fallen almost a third and net losses tripled to Dollars 165m as it continued to suffer from the severe drought in the US and the slowdown in Latin America.

The net loss compared with Dollars 45m last year, or, on a loss per share basis, 63 cents versus 17 cents a share in 2001. Revenues for the period fell from Dollars 936m to Dollars 679m. The results were in line with a profit warning on October 11. The shares closed down 1 per cent at Dollars 16.75 in early trading.

Hugh Grant, chief operating officer, said Monsanto would lose 4m-6m of RoundUp volumes in the US, its main herbicide product, because of the continued effect of dry weather. "US branded volumes for the year will be at 37m-39m. The market is growing at a slower rate than expected. Overall, we expect sales of 49m gallon range, down from our 51m predictions."

He also warned of pricing pressures, such as from Syngenta, an agrochemical rival. Monsanto said it expected the price of RoundUp at the end of the year would be down about 7-8 per cent year-on-year. However, Mr Grant suggested that pricing of RoundUp was getting tougher, with price falls of 12-15 per cent.

Sales of RoundUp and other herbicides fell 43 per cent to Dollars 281m from Dollars 489m.

Monsanto has been seeking to shift its reliance from RoundUp, which has gone off-patent, by spending heavily on genetically modified traits, which accounts for the bulk of its research and development spend. Monsanto said it had been focusing on improving cash generation and hoped to generate Dollars 400m-Dollars 460m of free cashflow by the end of 2002.