Monsanto — the world’s largest seed producer and chemical-biotech giant — recently announced it would cut 12% of its employees due to an historic decline in stock value.
Monsanto Co. said it will eliminate 2,600 jobs as part of a cost-savings plan, joining a growing list of major corporations struggling to contain the damage from the decline in world commodities prices.
The St. Louis-based agricultural giant announced the reductions — the equivalent of 12 percent of its workforce — as it reported a loss of 19 cents a share in the fiscal fourth quarter and warned profit would remain weak through 2016.
The report continued, adding:
Monsanto fell 2 cents to $88.06 in New York. The shares have dropped 26 percent this year.
Profit will fall to $5.10 to $5.60 a share in the 12 months that began Sept. 1, excluding restructuring costs, from $5.73 a year earlier, Monsanto said Wednesday in a statement. That compares with $6.22, the average of 23 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The last time that profit dropped was in 2010.” [emphasis added]
Similarly, companies like DuPont, Monsanto’s biggest competitor, are scrambling to reduce costs and restructure their businesses. DuPont’s CEO abruptly stepped down amid a drop in earnings they say is due to weak agricultural markets in Brazil, as well as currency discrepancies between the U.S. dollar and the Brazilian real.
Monsanto took advantage of the slump in world commodities prices to trim expenses, scrutinize extra costs, leave the sugar-cane business, reprioritize research and development funds, and terminate some of its 20,000 employees — pinching a mere $300 million annually at the expense of its employees’ livelihoods.
Additionally, because Monsanto failed to secure the purchase of Syngenta AG for $46 billion, the company now has wiggle room to accelerate $3 billion of share repurchases. Monsanto expects prices to recover and become lucrative with the help of a new genetically modified soybean, Intacta Pro. Unwaveringly confident about the profit it could earn with this new soy variety, Monsanto recently shocked analysts with a confident prediction that by 2019, per-share earnings will double.
What Monsanto Doesn’t Want You to Know About Falling Demand
After the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia last year, the country rejected all U.S. food imports and tightened regulations against GMO crops and foods. Russian government even put a bug in the ear of the E.U. that they should abandon the idea of trade agreements with the U.S. in favor of trade with Russia — because America’s food supply is dismal and unhealthy. Where Russia banned production of all GMOs two weeks ago, the comparatively GMO-dependent U.S. must now import its supply of organic corn to satisfy consumer demand.
Monsanto’s European business continues to sag as Wales joined at least 17 E.U. countries with bans on GM crops — from eliminating GM corn, to full prohibition on Monsanto-related goods. With obvious lack of demand and thus purchasing power in Europe resulting from such direct action, Monsanto turned predatory in exploiting third-world countries with ‘cheap’ currency — despite sharply reduced profit.
Hedge Fund Billionaire Loses Out to Real Science
Hedge fund billionaire Larry Robbins flushed nearly $375 million straight down the proverbial drain when his billion-dollar Glenview Capital hedge fund firm purchased 11 million shares in Monsanto — recklessly putting almost all his eggs in Monsanto’s genetically modified basket.
Before extolling the virtues of Monsanto for saving the world from hunger and land shortage, Robbins told audiences in a conference, “In a utopian world, we’d all be able to shop with hedge fund managers and movie stars at Whole Foods.”
At that point, shares in Monsanto had reached $125. But in March, the World Health Organization’s cancer research unit announced that glyphosate — the active and most prevalent ingredient in Roundup — was “probably carcinogenic to humans.” That announcement was quickly followed with the designation by Brazil’s National Cancer Institute of GM crops as a cause of widespread, cancer-causing pesticide use. At least five countries are rejecting glyphosate products or are working towards a ban due to increasing cancer rates and warnings from medical professionals.
Furthermore, two American workers have just filed suit against Monsanto, claiming Roundup gave them cancer.
Could these reasons have anything to do with Monsanto’s stock decline of about 32% since March?
It is too bad Robbins failed to heed the advice of Harrington Investments, Inc., which had warned Monsanto’s risky GMO and litigation practices leave their shareholders in the dark about the true financial risk they take on board the Monsanto gravy train.
Is Monsanto’s Gravy Train At The Last Whistle Stop?
As ironic as it is, a high-wage, high-production economy not based on free trade would make Monsanto lose much more, as it would allow both consumer and country to afford healthy alternatives. Robbins alluded to this with his “Whole Foods utopia” statement right before he uttered the oft-repeated delusion that Monsanto is necessary to feed the world.
The truth is that a hungry world is being extorted by Monsanto. Indeed, world hunger is the reason that Monsanto can even exist. Whether it’s forcing a country to use Monsanto seeds or buying out science, the company continues to monopolize the globe — maintaining a strong grip on America’s food supply and cotton acreage.
However, even giants are subject to the whims of the global market and falling demand, as Monsanto’s recent decline demonstrates.
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