Bayer's agriculture business buoyed by higher produce prices in Q1

Bayer BAYGn.DE said prospects because of its agriculture business, the world's largest supplier of seeds and pesticides, have brightened through the first quarter as demand from farmers was enhancing amid higher produce prices.

"In the agriculture business, specifically, we visit a market environment that provides us an extremely positive perspective," LEADER Werner Baumann said in the written text of a speech posted on the group's website and which is delivered at next week's twelve-monthly shareholder meeting.

He said first-quarter results would be published on May 12 and the start to the entire year was successful.

"A sizable upsurge in the demand for agricultural products has resulted in rising prices. Of course, we hope that this momentum will continue."

The agriculture business, which Bayer boosted with the $63 billion takeover of Monsanto, has been a drag on the diversified group with Bayer saying in February that earnings per share would slip in 2021, disappointing investors.

The CEO on Friday reiterated that 2021 sales may likely grow about 3% with earnings per share to arrive slightly below the year-earlier level, when excluding currency swings.

Bayer last month pledged to revive growth in adjusted earnings by 2024, helped by the launch of products such as for example digital farming services, new soy seeds and non-prescription remedies.

Bayer's stock has recouped losses it suffered in October this past year, when it flagged vast amounts of euros in writedowns on agricultural assets.

But litigation is still a drag on the shares. An $11 billion outline settlement in June this past year of U.S. lawsuits that allege Bayer's Roundup weed killer causes cancer has turned out to be more expensive amid challenging to finalise the offer.

The CEO reiterated in the speech a new proposal agreed with plaintiffs’ legal representatives has yet to be approved by the judge in the case.