Zacks Investment Research Upgrades Monsanto Company (MON) to “Buy”

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report released on Thursday morning. The firm currently has $132.00 price objective on the basic materials company’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Monsanto's shares have outperformed the industry in a year's time. The company reported better-than-expected results for third-quarter fiscal 2017. Increasing demand for crop-yield enhancing products, such as Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybeans, and launch of non-imitable technological solutions are likely to boost the company's top-line performance, moving ahead. Further, robust top-line performance, higher planted acreage, as well as lower U.S. corn and soybean costs are expected to bolster bottom-line results in near term. Also, the successful accomplishment of Bayer's buyout deal is anticipated to open up a number of opportunities for Monsanto. Over the last 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the stock moved north for fiscal 2018.”

A number of other equities research analysts also recently issued reports on MON. UBS AG downgraded shares of Monsanto from a positive rating to a neutral rating in a research report on Tuesday, June 27th. Royal Bank Of Canada reiterated a hold rating and issued a $128.00 target price on shares of Monsanto in a research report on Wednesday, August 2nd. Jefferies Group LLC downgraded shares of Monsanto from a buy rating to a hold rating and set a $128.00 target price for the company. in a research report on Wednesday, July 12th. Barclays PLC increased their target price on shares of Monsanto from $115.00 to $120.00 and gave the stock an equal weight rating in a research report on Thursday, June 29th. Finally, Piper Jaffray Companies set a $128.00 target price on shares of Monsanto and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Friday, August 11th. Ten equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eight have given a buy rating to the company. Monsanto currently has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $124.09.

Shares of Monsanto (MON) opened at 118.27 on Thursday. Monsanto has a 12-month low of $97.35 and a 12-month high of $118.97. The firm has a market capitalization of $51.96 billion, a P/E ratio of 25.54 and a beta of 1.07. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $117.25 and its 200-day moving average price is $116.44.

Monsanto (NYSE:MON) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, June 28th. The basic materials company reported $1.93 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.74 by $0.19. Monsanto had a net margin of 14.11% and a return on equity of 45.26%. The company had revenue of $4.23 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $4.18 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $2.17 EPS. The company’s revenue was up 1.0% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts expect that Monsanto will post $4.89 EPS for the current year.

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The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 27th. Shareholders of record on Friday, October 6th will be given a $0.54 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, October 5th. This represents a $2.16 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.83%. Monsanto’s dividend payout ratio is 46.75%.

In other news, EVP Robert T. Fraley sold 52,410 shares of Monsanto stock in a transaction dated Monday, July 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $117.95, for a total transaction of $6,181,759.50. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, EVP Steven Mizell sold 11,300 shares of Monsanto stock in a transaction dated Monday, July 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $118.57, for a total transaction of $1,339,841.00. Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 55,011 shares in the company, valued at $6,522,654.27. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.79% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Several institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of MON. Jennison Associates LLC boosted its position in shares of Monsanto by 1.1% during the 1st quarter. Jennison Associates LLC now owns 296,205 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $33,530,000 after acquiring an additional 3,209 shares in the last quarter. Advisor Partners LLC boosted its position in shares of Monsanto by 5.8% during the 1st quarter. Advisor Partners LLC now owns 7,073 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $801,000 after acquiring an additional 387 shares in the last quarter. Advisory Services Network LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Monsanto during the 1st quarter valued at about $1,195,000. Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management Co. Ltd. boosted its position in shares of Monsanto by 3.9% during the 1st quarter. Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management Co. Ltd. now owns 70,380 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $7,967,000 after acquiring an additional 2,651 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Kornitzer Capital Management Inc. KS boosted its position in shares of Monsanto by 18.9% during the 1st quarter. Kornitzer Capital Management Inc. KS now owns 49,043 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $5,552,000 after acquiring an additional 7,792 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 74.78% of the company’s stock.

Monsanto Company Profile

Monsanto Company (Monsanto), along with its subsidiaries, is a provider of agricultural products for farmers. The Company provides seeds, biotechnology trait products, herbicides and digital agriculture tools to farmers. The Company operates through two segments: Seeds and Genomics, and Agricultural Productivity.

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