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Tickers in this Article: MON
When Monsanto (NYSE:MON) releases its fourth quarter earnings on Wednesday, October 3, 2012, it is expected to come in with a wider loss than a year ago. Analysts anticipate a loss of 44 cents per share, down from a loss of 22 cents per share last year.

Investors care about earnings because they drive stock prices. Strong earnings generally result in the stock price moving up and vice versa. SEE: 12 Things You Need To Know About Financial Statements

What to Expect: For the fiscal year, analysts are expecting earnings of $3.71 per share.

Monsanto's expected revenue of $2.25 billion for the quarter is below last year's reported figure of $2.27 billion by 1%. For the fiscal year, expected revenue is $13.65 billion.

Company Performance: MON has a P/E ratio of 22.2, high compared to the industry average of 17.06. Generally speaking, the higher the P/E ratio, the higher the market expectations for a company's future performance. The P/E ratio has been used for ages by analysts and still remains one of the most relevant pieces of stock valuation. From the investor's perspective, a stock with a lower ratio is relatively cheaper than a stock with a higher ratio. SEE: How To Use The P/E Ratio And PEG To Tell The Future Of A Stock

The stock price has risen from $83.48 on July 2, 2012 to $91.36 over the past quarter. Monsanto's best recent streak was when its price gained $3.67 per share between August 23, 2012 and September 11, 2012.

The Competition: Monsanto manufactures agricultural products. Analysts are optimistic about Monsanto, with 11 of 18 assigning it a buy rating. The rating has remained unchanged for the past three months.

The company's closest competitor in the chemical manufacturing industry is Syngenta (SYT). Analysts are more optimistic about Monsanto than about Syngenta. Only three out of six analysts rate the latter a buy.

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