Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) is a global conglomerate that specializes in agro-chemical and agricultural biotechnology. Its stock is trading at double the price of its competitors, and yet, shares continue to climb. There are three types of shareholders holding Monsanto stock: individuals, mutual funds and institutions, with institutions holding the bulk of the shares.

Who Is Buying Monsanto?

As of May 2, 2017, Monsanto stock is held by 1,072 institutions. In fact, 76% of the company’s shares were held by institutional and mutual fund owners. Founded by John Francis Queeny in 1901, the company leads the world in the production of genetically modified (GMO) seed for crops such as soybeans, corn and cotton. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, the company traded for approximately $116 per share in early May 2017, close to its 52-week high of $117.33, which it touched recently.

As of May 2017, the company had a trailing twelve months (TTM) earnings per share of $4.35 and a market capitalization of $51.69 billion. Monsanto also boasts a trailing 12-month price-to-earnings ratio of 26.89. This means that Monsanto is trading at nearly 27 times its earnings per share, compared to competitors Agrium Inc. (NYSE: AGU) and CF Industries Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CF), which are trading at 21 and -22 times earnings per share, respectively. Still, the company’s stock price continues to climb, up from $105 in the beginning of the year. Either the company is overpriced or its shares are worth a hefty premium in the market. So who is holding onto this stock at the current market premium?

Top 5 Individual Monsanto Shareholders

The top five individual holders of Monsanto include Hugh Grant, Brett Begemann, Pierre Courduroux, Robert Stevens and Michael Frank. Together, these shareholders own 2.45 million shares currently worth over $287 million. According to the company's SEC filings - Hugh Grant reported owning 1.68 million shares, Brett Begemann reported owning 430,583 shares, Pierre Courduroux reported owning  208, 775 shares,  Robert Stevens reported 75,086 shares and Michael Frank reported owning 64,099 shares.

Each of these five shareholders sit on the board of directors or has held a prominent position on the executive leadership team. Hugh Grant is the chairman and chief executive officer of Monsanto. He is also chairman of the Monsanto board of directors and chairman of the executive committee of the board of directors. Brett Begemann is the current president and chief operating officer at Monsanto while Pierre Courduroux is the Senior Vice-President and the Chief Financial Officer for the firm. Robert Stevens is a member of the board of directors and a retired chairman of the board. Stevens also served as chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT) from August 2004 through December 2012 and was later elected executive chairman through December 2013. Michael Frank is a Senior Vice-President and the Chief Commercial Officer for Monsanto.

Top 5 Mutual Fund and Institutional Monsanto Shareholders

In total, the top five funds own over 32.5 million shares worth approximately $3.8 billion. According to Morningstar data, the top five mutual fund holders of Monsanto are Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund, Vanguard 500 Index Investor Fund, Vanguard PRIMECAP Inv Fund, SPDR  S&P 500 ETF AUD and SPDR S&P 500 ETF USD. Put together, the top five institutional holders of Monsanto stock own just over 92 million shares, worth over $10.7 billion. The top five institutional holders of Monsanto are The Vanguard Group, State Street Corporation (NYSE: STT), Blackrock Financial Advisors, MFS Investment Management KK and Fidelity Management and Research Company.