July 12, 2017 / 3:06 PM / 4 months ago

BUZZ-Jeffries downgrades Monsanto to hold ahead of Bayer deal

** Monsanto down slightly early Weds as Jeffries downgrades stock to hold from buy

** Analyst Laurence Alexander reiterates $128 PT as reflective of Bayer’s $66 bln all-cash deal, still on track for year-end

** Cites weather risk and increasing protein demand as most likely drivers of next cycle; other risks include deal falling through, biotech regulation, competitive threats

** On Jul 7 Missouri joined Arkansas in banning dicamba, a weed killer produced by MON, BAYGn and others

** On Jun 30, BAYGn filed for MON deal approval with EU regulators

** 10 of 18 analysts rate co “hold” with remaining 8 recommending “buy” or stronger; median PT $128

** Thomson Reuters StarMine awards Alexander 2 of 5 possible stars for past MON recommendations

** Even with slight dip Weds, MON has gained 11.2 pct YTD. That puts it ahead of the S&P 1500 Fertilizers and Agricultural Chemicals Index (up 6.7 pct), and S&P 500 (up 9 pct) (Stephen Culp)

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