UPDATE 2-Monsanto increases job cuts as corn, chemical sales slump

Wed Jan 6, 2016 1:32pm EST
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(New throughout, adds details on Syngenta talks, industry consolidation))

By P.J. Huffstutter and Tom Polansek

Jan 6 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co said a souring farm economy and currency woes will push its 2016 earnings to the lower end of expectations, while a cost-cutting drive will lead the world's largest seed company to slash more jobs.

Low commodity prices also should lead to more consolidation in the agricultural sector, Chief Executive Hugh Grant said, about a month after rivals Dow Chemical Co and DuPont said they would merge.

However, Monsanto's recent attempts to re-engage Syngenta AG about a potential takeover have been difficult since the Swiss agrochemical company shot down a proposed $45 billion deal last year, Grant said.

He told analysts on an earnings call on Wednesday that company executives still believe there is "a significant opportunity" for integration between the two companies, and given tougher market conditions there is a greater need to figure out what those opportunities might be.

"We haven't seen much progress on that front," Grant said.

Investors and Wall Street analysts have wondered what Monsanto would do to boost its portfolio of farm chemicals - particularly after it abandoned a bid for Syngenta in August.

Monsanto reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss on Wednesday, thanks in part to soybean sales rising in Brazil and growing demand in the company's new soybean seeds and product lines.   Continued...