Is Monsanto Back?
By Brian Orelli
Motley Fool (investment advice), October 9 2008

What exactly was so exciting about Monsanto's (NYSE: MON) earnings release yesterday that justified a nearly 10% jump in the stock price? After all, the company said just last week how much it thought it would make in the quarter, and it hit its guidance for earnings per share on the nose at $3.64 for the fiscal year.

The company did come in a little higher than expected for its GAAP EPS, but should we really be all that excited about the company underestimating charges associated with buying De Ruiter's vegetable seed business and selling its Posilac cow hormone to Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY)? Big hint: No!

Then again, a 10% gain doesn't look like all that much when Monsanto is still well off its 52-week high set last June. In fact, the entire agriculture industry has been severely hurt by lower grain prices.

Change From 52-Week High
Mosaic (NYSE: MOS)
Agrium (NYSE: AGU)
PotashCorp (NYSE: POT)
Syngenta (NYSE: SYT)
Deere (NYSE: DE)
Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Perhaps the most exciting thing to come out of the conference call was management's claim that farmers shouldn't have any problems getting credit to plant fields. If right, that bodes well for business. And if worse comes to worst, Monsanto could use some of its $1.6 billion in cash to extend credit to farmers.

It's hard to call the peaks and valleys of investing. I got lucky in warning investors about a potential bubble at almost the exact top -- although I couldn't have guessed that it would go this low -- so I'm not going to tempt fate and try to call the bottom.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Eli Lilly is a Motley Fool Income Investor stock recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.