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April 20, 2014  |  Login
Genetically Modified Food: State of the Market and Growth Prospects
By John Rubino
 
The market for GM crops is so new and specialized that only a few companies operate there on any scale. Monsanto is the dominant player, and through a combination of innovation and legal hardball, it has managed to alter farmers' buying and planting habits. Instead of buying seeds from four or five seed companies, farmers have begun to narrow the list down to one or two, with Monsanto usually at the top. As a result, its sales are soaring and its profit margins are widening. In early 2008, the consensus among analysts called for sales growth of better than 20 percent a year for the following three years. But now competition is heating up, as Dow Chemical's AgroSciences division and Swiss-based Syngenta, the world's biggest agrichemicals company, are both bringing out GM seeds. Dow's "Herculex" corn resists an array of harmful insects, while Syngenta is introducing Roundup-tolerant corn.

Agribiotech's Growth Prospects

Genetic engineers are just beginning to figure out how to mix and match genes to produce useful plants. So barring a major frankenfood incident, next generation GM crops will extend their advantages over traditional varieties and will come to dominate agriculture. But the small number of players (see Table below) limits investors' choices, so this sector doesn't require a lot of thought or offer much advantage to in-depth study.

Table: Agribiotech Stocks

Company

Ticker/Exchange

Headquarters

Market Value, 6/27/08 ($ millions)

Bayer (Bayer CropScience)

BAYG.F/Frankfurt

Germany

60,900

Dow Chemical (AgroSciences)

DOW/NYSE

U.S.

32,410

DuPont (Pioneer Hi-Bred)

DD/NYSE

U.S.

38,450

Monsanto

MON/NYSE

U.S.

70,430

Origin Agritech

SEED/NASDAQ

China

136

Syngenta

SYt/NYSE

Switzerland

29,972

 

 
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