Monsanto to shed 900 jobs as Roundup sales betray expectations

Monsanto, the world's biggest insect- and herbicide-resistant crops seed producer, reported declining third-quarter earnings, and said that the company is planning to reduce its headcount to realign its declining herbicide business.

''We will boost sales of corn and soybean seeds to meet 2009 earnings targets after sales of Roundup glyphosate herbicide, which came off patent nine years ago, declined sooner than the company expected, chief executive officer Hugh Grant said.

The St. Louis-based company's net income for the third quarter fell 14 per cent to $694 million, from $811 million a year earlier.
Sales for the three months through May declined 11 per cent to $3.16 billion.

Last month Monsanto said that it is on track to meet the lower end of its earnings guidance for fiscal 2009 with outstanding performance from its seeds and traits business offsetting effects of stronger-than-expected competition for its Roundup agricultural herbicides business (See: Monsanto sees $4.5 billion profit from seeds business).

The company intends to cut 900 jobs globally, incurring a fourth-quarter restructuring expense of $350 million to $400 million, said Grant, adding that ''the job cuts reflect Monsanto's transformation from a chemical company to biotech seed producer.

''Over the last six years, Monsanto's business has undergone a dramatic transition from a company historically built on chemical innovations to one focused on delivering enhanced seed offerings that help farmers get more out of each acre of farmland while reducing the footprint of the inputs used on that land,'' Grant said in a statement.