Kansas City: Monsanto Co, one of the world’s largest seed and agrichemical companies, said on Wednesday that it was slashing 2,600 jobs and restructuring operations to cut costs in a slumping commodity market that it expects to squeeze results well into 2016.

Monsanto, which also reported a much wider quarterly loss, said that along with the layoffs, its global restructuring would include “streamlining and reprioritizing" some commercial and research and development work, including an exit from the sugar cane business.

In its fiscal 2014 annual report, Monsanto said it had 22,400 regular employees and 4,600 temporary workers.

The company said it expected to reap annual savings of $275 million to $300 million from the restructuring by the end of fiscal 2017, at a total cost of $850 million to $900 million. It is developing further plans to reduce operating spending by an additional $100 million, bringing total annual savings to as much as $400 million.

Monsanto said it was pegging its earnings-per-share outlook for its new fiscal year, which began on 1 September, at $5.10 to $5.60. That is well below many analysts’ expectations for more than $6.00.

To try to shore up investor confidence, the company announced a $3 billion accelerated share repurchase program.

Monsanto said its losses widened to $1.06 a share in the fourth quarter ended on 31 August from 31 cents a year earlier.

Sales of corn seeds and traits, Monsanto’s key products, fell to $598 million from $630 million in the quarter. And sales at the company’s agricultural productivity unit, which includes Roundup herbicide, dropped to $1.1 billion from $1.25 billion.

For the year, net sales were down about 5% for the seeds and traits products and fell 7% for herbicides and other agricultural productivity products.

Despite the bleak results, Monsanto chairman Hugh Grant said in a statement that the company’s fundamentals were strong.

Monsanto will remain focused on execution of growth targets for its core seeds and traits business and be “disciplined" with its herbicide business, he said.

The company said it would still meet its target of more than doubling fiscal 2014 earnings per share, excluding special items, by 2019.

Shares of Monsanto were down 1.5% at $86.22 in early trading. The stock had fallen roughly 30% from a high set last February, and its growth strategy has under intense investor scrutiny after its attempted takeover of Swiss rival Syngenta AG failed. Reuters

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