NEW DIRECTIONAL PUT PLAYS

Monsanto Co. - MON - close: 112.81 change: -0.67

Stop Loss: 115.15
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Average Daily Volume = 4.1 million
Entry on October -- at $---.--
Listed on October 22, 2014
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
Monsanto describes itself as a company "committed to bringing a broad range of solutions to help nourish our growing world. We produce seeds for fruits, vegetables and key crops – such as corn, soybeans, and cotton – that help farmers have better harvests while using water and other important resources more efficiently. We work to find sustainable solutions for soil health, help farmers use data to improve farming practices and conserve natural resources, and provide crop protection products to minimize damage from pests and disease. Through programs and partnerships, we collaborate with farmers, researchers, nonprofit organizations, universities and others to help tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges."

What does that mean in plain English? The company operates two main segments. They have a seeds and genomics business and an agricultural productivity business. The seed and genomics business gets a lot of negative press over its bio-engineered seeds (GMO) to boost production and deter insects and weeds from hampering growth. The productivity business makes herbicides.

About 60% of MON's sales are in North America. They're trying to broaden their market and generate more customers in Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Unfortunately the plunge in grain prices in America has hurt with many grains at four or five year lows. If this doesn't change soon it could hurt future sales as farmers tend to buy less when prices are down.

It's easy to understand the long-term tailwinds for MON. The world needs to see significant growth in grain production to feed the booming population. Yet the company admits they are in a challenging commodity environment. Bears argue that the ethanol-driven boom in corn is over.

MON's most recent earnings report was October 8th and it was a disappointment. Wall Street was expecting a loss of 24 cents a share compared to a loss of 47 cents a year ago. MON reported their Q4 loss at 27 cents. They did see a strong surge in revenues of +19% to $2.63 billion in the quarter, which beat expectations. Here's an interesting factoid that should worry the bulls. What would MON's earnings have looked like if the company did not spend an astonishing $6.1 billion in stock buybacks last quarter?

Management did lower their guidance for fiscal year 2015. They expect their Q1 results to come in about half the same period a year ago. In the conference call MON claims that the weakness in corn will be made up by strength in soybeans. They pointed out that one of their biggest contributors in 2015 will be sales of their Intacta soybean seeds in Latin America. Yet the company is currently facing a legal battle with farmers in Brazil over getting paid royalties for these Intacta soybean seeds. Another challenge in 2015, which they just lowered guidance on, is they expect 4% to 5% of their EPS growth to come from their stock buyback program.

It looks like the next four quarters could be tough for MON. That's why today's bearish reversal at resistance near $115 and its 200-dma could be a bearish entry point. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy puts at $111.90. The point & figure chart is bearish and suggesting a $90 target but the P&F chart also shows potential support in the $102-104 zone.

Trigger @ $111.90

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the 2015 Jan $110 PUT (MON150117P110) current ask $2.71

Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Daily Chart:

Weekly Chart: