VIDEO: Publicly traded Corteva focuses on agriculture

Former Dow-DuPont company sets out on its own in rough seas on the NYSE as a pure-play agricultural company

NEW YORK — The Fearless Girl’s unmoving, observant gaze fell upon a sign of the times, one bigger than the New York subway cars that rumbled underneath her bronze shoes. Last week Corteva Agriscience began trading its own path as a separate agriculture company, three years after the merger of Dow and DuPont, in what it calls a “pure-play company” on the New York Stock Exchange.

Trading as CTVA, the shares in Corteva were exchanged 3:1 with the Dow-DuPont paper, and shareholders appear to have mostly held the stock. After pre-release expectations of US$32, the agriculture-only stock has traded in the $24 to $26 range since its June 3 opening.

The Fearless Girl is a relatively new feature on Manhattan’s southside Wall Street neighbourhood, a life-size bronze child appearing to look boldly upon the east wall of the NYSE where the Corteva share launch was just as boldly marked on opening day.

Inside the exchange, there was significant fanfare as Jim Collins, chief executive officer of Corteva, and as many other executives who could fit on the concrete balcony above the historic trading floor, celebrated the 9:30 a.m. start of trading.

“We have a lot to celebrate. Corteva stands alone as a pure-play agricultural company,” said Collins, ahead of a short walk to the trading floor.

He said he is counting on the marketplace to see the value of agricultural stocks moving forward, despite current tough times in the industry for some of its historic businesses, such the 93-year old Pioneer (Hybrid) crop genetics division, formerly a DuPont asset.

The new company faces significant competition in the consolidated agriculture game, with Monsanto-Bayer and Syngenta-ChemChina, other recently merged companies in the sector. Company’s like FMC have also expanded in the wake of mergers, picking up divested chemical and genetic assets.

However, Corteva officials say they feel its ability to stand without its diversified chemical industry parents will leave it able to react without the need to respond to non-related partners’ wins and losses.

Corteva, as one of the world’s largest crop genetic and farm input companies, begins its new life in a tough agricultural climate. Its global footprint helps to share the gain and pain of low-priced grain and the effects of production losses due to excessive rain in the American Midwest and Chinese trade uncertainties.

Edward Breen, chief executive officer of DuPont, said the joint company has taken $3 billion out of costs, post-merger. Collins said $1.2 billion came from agriculture businesses.

He said tough times in trade and weather are macro-issues and they “will come to pass.”

Bryce Eger, president of Corteva Canada, said the company has one of the best pipelines of research and product development in the industry, with new genetics and new crop protection molecules being announced and, in some cases, coming to market over the coming seasons.

He said the company’s ability to leverage its global exposure means that while there are struggles in North America, Latin American’s safrinha season is lining up to be very successful for Corteva and the rest of agriculture, in part due to its northern neighbour’s challenges.

Collins said the $20 billion market capitalization company is targeting an annual five percent earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization growth target over time.

The sign is down from the NYSE, but the Fearless Girl will continue to watch what unfolds for the new public company.

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