Monsanto profit falls; company will cut 900 jobs

Monsanto Co., the world's biggest seed maker, said Wednesday its third-quarter profit fell 14 percent and disclosed plans to cut 900 jobs, or about 4 percent of its work force.

The layoffs and declining profits were a stark turnaround for Monsanto, which has reported improved earnings over the last few years by selling patented, genetically engineered crops worldwide.

Executives said they were caught off guard by the deteriorating performance of the herbicide Roundup, which was once a mainstay revenue source. A flood of generic products gutted prices for the herbicide and Monsanto expects profit from Roundup to drop by half this year.

Monsanto shares fell $2.62, or 3.3 percent, to $76.68 in afternoon trading Wednesday.

Chief Executive Hugh Grant said Monsanto will consolidate its Roundup operations into a new division of the company, dedicating less money and fewer workers to an increasingly volatile herbicide market.

Monsanto expects to reap the vast majority of its future profits from genetically modified seeds, releasing one or two new varieties every year, he said.