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Early In-Season Crop Indicators and Monsanto's Unique Product Portfolio Reinforce Near-Term Opportunity, Monsanto Executives to Tell Investors at Whistle Stop Event

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 4:25am
Monsanto

GOTHENBURG, Neb., Aug. 11, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Gathering today with investors at a virtual oasis for drought tolerance in America, Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) executives will highlight promising early indicators for its Genuity® SmartStax™ corn and Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybeans.

The company's fifth summer field event for investors starts today at Monsanto's Water Utilization Learning Center in Gothenburg, Neb., with executives reviewing both a dashboard of seasonal indicators and customer research that shows farmers are inclined to purchase greater volumes of Genuity SmartStax corn and Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans at lower price points consistent with Monsanto's 2011 strategy.

The new seasonal indicator dashboard, which encompasses environmental conditions and performance gauges, suggests Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans and Genuity SmartStax corn appear to be on track to demonstrate differentiated benefits with the 2010 harvest.  The corn dashboard, covering Genuity SmartStax, Genuity® VT Triple PRO™ and Genuity® VT Double PRO™ products, indicates anticipated strong performance as 2010 growing conditions reflect more normal levels of insect pressure and stress following two very mild years.  In particular, Monsanto is tracking an increase in corn earworm pressure, one of the insect pests the company's trait products offer unique protection against.  The soybean dashboard indicates favorable conditions at the current growth stage, as root digs show increased root mass for Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield treated with Acceleron® seed treatment products over competitive products and no major disease issues have emerged to date.

"We believe in our products, and we're confident that come this harvest, Genuity SmartStax corn and Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans will deliver the results we expect," Chairman, President and CEO Hugh Grant will tell investors. "I expect by this time next year, I'll be able to tell you that the strategic actions we've taken have complemented a successful harvest, leading farmers to chose our technologies over other options."

Executives also will discuss new market survey results that suggest farmers are interested in trying or increasing their purchases of Genuity SmartStax corn and Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans if prices are lower, which trends well with the product choice and pricing actions the company previously outlined.  Monsanto has said it plans to offer more products across geographies at more price points for farmers next year to make on-farm trial more affordable.

The survey, conducted in late July among approximately 190 corn farmers and 400 soybean farmers, show more than half of those surveyed said they would purchase increased volumes of Genuity SmartStax corn and Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans at lower prices.

"We've made some significant moves as it relates to our pricing approach, but they're simple moves to understand," Grant will tell investors. "With Genuity SmartStax, we've priced so that even with only mild insect pressure, SmartStax returns value to the farmer because of the value of the reduced refuge.  With Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield, our pricing means that even a one bushel per acre advantage creates additional value for the farmer."

Grant also indicated that the significant drivers of the company's fourth-quarter fiscal-year 2010 operating plan continue to track well with management's expectations.  In particular, the beginning of the Latin American corn-sales season is making good progress as planting in key countries approaches.  In May, the company announced the strategic repositioning of the Roundup business.  Since the announcement, Grant said implementation has gone well, with successful product positioning into the U.S. market in the quarter.  As it has previously indicated, the company continues to evaluate ways to streamline the cost-structure of the Roundup business, and also is identifying additional opportunities to better align company resources to achieve operational efficiencies to be in place for fiscal year 2011.  Monsanto will conclude its 2010 fiscal year on Aug. 31, and will provide a complete report on fourth-quarter and fiscal-year earnings on Oct. 6.

Commercial Leadership Platform

Monsanto's commercial differentiation comes from its unique ability to combine breakthrough traits like Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans and Genuity SmartStax corn with the industry's best seed germplasm to create yield and value that farmers recognize, Monsanto executives will say.

Notably, the event will feature a first-hand look at the breeding tools that create Monsanto's differentiated germplasm advantage, particularly in corn.  Monsanto executives will show that the company has maintained a consistent eight to 10 bushel-an-acre advantage over leading competitors for the past half decade, owing to its strong international germplasm base and early application of breeding technology.  As Monsanto continues to deploy its advanced breeding tools, it projects its germplasm performance will continue to provide a sustainable competitive advantage, allowing the company to deliver to farmers better-performing seed that creates incremental value on the farm.

More Crop Per Drop

The SmartStax corn and Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean traits represent the first launched High Impact Technologies (HITs), which lay the groundwork for Monsanto's next generation HITs in drought tolerance and refuge-in-the-bag.  The use of biotechnology for drought tolerance can offer a step-change in approach over the breeding approaches used in the rest of the industry, executives will say as they provide early thinking on the company's commercial approach for the product.  

Monsanto sees the first drought-tolerant technology as an ideal fit for the Western Corn Belt. Pending regulatory approval, Monsanto expects to deliver the industry's first true single bag refuge-in-the-bag solution beginning in 2012.  This is expected to provide the flexibility to deploy drought technology on Genuity SmartStax corn and Genuity VT Double PRO corn, bringing together an appealing package of reduced refuge, refuge-in-a-bag and drought tolerant technology.  

Monsanto opened the Water Utilization Learning Center, the first of its kind in agriculture, last year.  The $6 million facility is designed for studying cropping systems comprised of world-class genetics, agronomic practices and biotech traits including water-use efficiency technologies such as drought-tolerant cropping systems. Monsanto selected Gothenburg for the site because of its location in the transition zone from dryland acres to irrigated acres on the western High Plains, which gives Monsanto the diversity it needs to determine how to use future technologies in adding value to crops.

Investor Event Materials

Materials related to this investor briefing are available on the company's web site at http://www.monsanto.com/investors .  These materials include:  a comprehensive guide that provides an overview of the projects featured as part of the investor field event and presentations by Monsanto's executive team.  

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