UPDATE 1-Monsanto CEO: data science key part of long-term growth
(Adds CEO comment, company background)
ST. LOUIS Nov 18 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co's long-term growth plans, which include new crop-boosting technologies and expansion into new markets, relies heavily on data science, the "glue that holds the pieces together," Chief Executive Hugh Grant said on Wednesday.
The world's largest seed company is also "very bullish" on its push into microbials, microbe-based products that it believes can help drive crop yields higher, he said.
His comments at the company's investor day gathering in St. Louis highlighted two recent moves: a partnership with enzyme maker Novozymes in 2013 and its nearly $1 billion purchase of data science company The Climate Corporation in the same year.
Monsanto's stock slumped this year as core profit drivers - glyphosate and seed traits - have shown signs of strain and after the company abandoned its $45 billion bid to buy rival seedmaker Syngenta AG in August.
Monsanto is now trying to reposition itself as a business built on data science and services as well as a chemicals, seeds and genetic traits company.
It aims to boost gross profit by $3.5 billion by fiscal year 2019 by expanding its South America-focused Intacta soybean business, launching its Xtend soybeans business, developing new corn hybrids and expanding in new and existing markets.
"We're going to be sensible, we're going to be disciplined and we're going to be focused. But this only makes sense if we have additional layers of growth," Grant said.
Monsanto shares were up 1.3 percent at $95.60 on Wednesday afternoon.
(Reporting by P.J. Huffstutter in St. Louis, writing by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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