Monsanto’s quarterly loss narrows as expenses drop

Monsanto Co., which agreed last month to be bought by Germany’s Bayer AG for $66 billion, reported a smaller quarterly loss on Wednesday, helped by higher corn seed volumes and lower expenses.

The net loss attributable to Monsanto narrowed to $191 million, or 44 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Aug. 31 from $495 million, or $1.06 per share, a year earlier.

Creve Coeur-based Monsanto also forecast a return to earnings growth in fiscal 2017, but projections fell short of some analysts’ estimates as lower crop prices continue to weigh on farmer spending.

Profit excluding one-time items will be $4.50 to $4.90 a share in the 12 months through August, the company said, up from $4.48 in fiscal 2016. The midpoint of that forecast range was lower than the $4.89 average of 18 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

For the final quarter of 2016, net sales rose 8.8 percent to $2.56 billion. Net sales for the full fiscal year totaled $13.5 billion.

Creve Coeur-based Monsanto did not offer any update on potential divestitures related to the Bayer deal, which still needs regulatory approval. Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant said the company remained on track to close the sale to Bayer by the end of 2017.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Bloomberg

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