Finance — July 20, 2017 at 2:56 am

The Best Stock in Missouri: Monsanto

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We scoured the nation to identify the best stock in every state. Monsanto (symbol MON) is the publicly traded company we picked in Missouri. The company headquarters is located in St. Louis.

A word of caution: Since we selected a single stock from each state (plus one from D.C), and choices in some states are sparse, a few of our picks are best suited to investors comfortable with a higher degree of risk. This is not necessarily one of our 51 favorite stocks in the entire U.S., in other words.

Monsanto by the Numbers

  • Headquarters: St. Louis
  • Share price: $116.84
  • Market value: $51.2 billion
  • Price-earnings ratio: 25

(Prices and data are as of June 22, 2017)

One apparent fan of a proposed merger between German drug and pesticide manufacturer Bayer and seed giant Monsanto: Warren Buffett. Berkshire Hathaway disclosed in February that it bought 8 million shares of Monsanto during the fourth quarter of 2016, after the merger announcement in September. Should the deal meet regulatory approval, Bayer will acquire Monsanto for $128 a share in an all-cash transaction. Morningstar analysts say there’s an 80% chance the deal will close by the end of the year, given the lack of broad overlap between the two companies and, therefore, few antitrust arguments against the merger. The regulatory go-ahead would mean a merger arbitrage opportunity for holders of Monsanto stock, which trades at a 9.4% discount to Bayer’s offer price. Should regulators kill the merger, Bayer has agreed to pay Monsanto $2 billion as a “break-up fee.”

Either way, says CFRA analyst Christopher Muir, Monsanto is a leading innovator in genetically modified produce, and an increasing share of crops worldwide reflect Monsanto’s mark. The company’s dominant market position should allow it to command higher prices, which Muir believes will drive above-average long-term earnings growth. His 12-month price target for the stock matches Bayer’s offer price at $128.

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