Corteva posts smaller-than-expected loss, accelerates buyback timeline

FILE PHOTO: The logo and trading info for Corteva Agriscience, a former division of DowDuPont, is displayed on a screen at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 3, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Corteva Inc CTVA.N on Wednesday reported a smaller-than-expected loss, primarily on the back of cost cuts, and accelerated the timeline for its share buyback program.

The pesticide and seed maker has been streamlining its manufacturing operations by shutting down some facilities and more recently said it would look to cut some more costs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that has hurt commodities markets.

The company said coronavirus-related cost savings were about $50 million in the third quarter, and it expects to keep most of these cost controls in place into 2021.

Savings from the company’s merger and later divestment from conglomerate DowDupont was on track to be $230 million for 2020, Corteva said.

The company, which had launched a $1 billion share buyback program over three years in 2019, said it now expects to complete the repurchase by the end of 2021, six months ahead of the initial timeline.

Corteva, which reaffirmed its 2020 guidance, said higher volume and price of new products such as Arylex herbicide, Spinosyns insecticide, and Inatreq fungicide helped boost third-quarter organic sales by 9% to $2.07 billion.

However, seed volumes fell 14% on an organic basis in the quarter due to a stronger year-ago quarter as weather conditions last year had delayed some sales into the back half.

Corteva’s operating loss before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization was $179 million, compared to a loss of $207 million a year earlier.

The loss, excluding items, was 39 cents per share, smaller than analysts’ estimate for a loss of 42 cents.

Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel