As UBS' Andrew Cash recently noted, Monsanto's CEO
is "increasingly spending more time discussing its multiple sources of future earnings
, including integrated farming systems, and almost no time on new blockbuster product introductions. We believe this is code for slowing overall EPS."
You can see that slowing growth by walking through updated projections provided by Merrill Lynch. After boosting EBITDA
22% (to $3.05 billion) in 2011, they see EBITDA rising 19% this year, 11% in fiscal 2013 and 5% in fiscal 2014. When "neutral" is a "sell"
Here's the tricky thing: Nobody on Wall Street
will tell you this stock is going to go down.
Indeed, this is a stock that has made bullish
analysts look smart in front of their clients, and they need a reason to keep getting in front of those clients if they are to secure a meeting at all. Sadly, that's what more than 10 years of working on Wall Street taught me.
(block:block=16)UBS, in laying out its concerns, only has a "neutral" rating, lest the firm's analysts end up in the doghouse with Monsanto's management. Goldman Sachs also recently lost its appetite for this stock, removing it from the firm's "Conviction List." But they still suggest the stock deserves to trade at 20 times projected fiscal 2013 EPS of $4.38. Yet as noted earlier, slowing growth more likely argues for a slowly falling multiple. Monsanto's projected rates of growth are unlikely to support an EPS (and thus, a P/E ratio) that high.
Risks to Consider: Monsanto still spends huge sums on R&D, and those efforts may still yield another blockbuster product to bolster future sales.Action to Take -->
Note the phrase "slowly-falling multiple." There's no reason to expect this stock to fall out of bed quickly, but it appears to have peaked after a solid two-year run. A high multiple and slowing growth is never the recipe for further upside.
If you own shares, then this looks like a good time to sell. And if the market
rebounds and brings this stock back into the $80s, then it would only strengthen the case to short this stock.
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-- David Sterman
David Sterman does not personally hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article. StreetAuthority LLC does not hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.
This article originally appeared on StreetAuthority
Author: David Sterman