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I’ll Try the Portfolio Salad with Oil & Vinegar, Please!: Monsanto Company (MON)

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Sometimes all it takes is something crisp and refreshing like a salad – with just enough tanginess – to liven up a dreary lunch. The same can be true for a stock portfolio that seems bland and uninspiring. A little oil & vinegar over fresh greens may be just the enticing side dish you need to augment your investments.

An agricultural enterprise, Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON), with their subsidiaries, provides agricultural products for farmers. The company operates in two segments: Seeds and Genomics, and Agricultural Productivity.

genetically modified foodsIn January, Monsanto reported results for the first quarter of their fiscal year 2013. Net sales increased 21 percent over the prior year’s first quarter to $2.9 billion. Gross profit for the first quarter of 2013 increased 27 percent over the year ago period to $1.4 billion.

Net Sales for their Seeds and Genomics segment (global seeds and related traits business) increased 14 percent in the first quarter to $1.8 billion. Net Sales for Monsanto’s Agricultural Productivity segment (crop protection products, lawn-and-garden herbicide products) increased $279 million.

What does this mean for investors? Investors should note that Monsanto reported that continued expansion of their Latin American corn business, early momentum in their U.S. seeds and traits business, and performance of their agricultural productivity segment drove these robust results. The company, due to a positive order book, had strong shipments in the U.S.  Monsanto’s order pace is ahead of where it was the same point in time last year.

A company’s capacity for progressive development is something for investors to look at. Monsanto’s sales are sprouting quite aggressively this new fiscal year. In addition, the company’s commitment to R&D is something positive for investors to consider. Mr. Hugh Grant, Monsanto Chairman and CEO, stated, “The momentum in our business is also seen in our record research and development progress.”

Monsanto announced at the end of January that they purchased select assets of Agradis, Inc. Agradis is a privately held company concentrating on developing sustainable agricultural solutions. Monsanto’s purchase includes the Agradis name and their collection of microbes that can improve crop productivity. Moreover, Monsanto acquired the company’s R&D site in La Jolla, California.

Of further note to investors: Monsanto’s Board of Directors recently declared a quarterly dividend on the company’s common stock of 37.5 cents per share (payable on April 26, 2013, to shareowners of record on April 5, 2013).

One way to accentuate this portfolio salad is with oil & vinegar dressing. Palette favorites to consider include H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) and The J. M. Smucker Company (NYSE:SJM).

Heinz , in tandem with their subsidiaries, manufactures and markets food products for consumers, and foodservice and institutional customers. The company’s Heinz Ketchup, Distilled White and Apple Cider Vinegars, and other well-known products are the types of items consumers grab almost without thinking.

Significant for investors is Heinz’s reported fiscal 2013 Q2 results. The company experienced growth of 11.1 percent in earnings per share from continuing operations (excluding charges for productivity initiatives in fiscal 2012). Strong growth in emerging markets, continued growth in Global Ketchup and their Top 15 Brands, and a favorable tax rate propelled this growth. Their Top 15 Brands delivered organic sales growth of 4.6 percent (+1.7 percent reported). Heinz delivered their 30th consecutive quarter of organic sales growth.

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