Syngenta Declines as Cold Weather Delays Planting: Zurich Mover

Syngenta AG, the world’s largest producer of crop chemicals, declined the most in almost two months after Liberum Capital said unusually cold weather in North America and Europe will delay the planting season.

The stock fell as much as 2.1 percent, the biggest drop since Feb. 6, and was down 1.4 percent at 390.30 Swiss francs at 11 a.m. in Zurich, making the Basel-based company the second-worst performer in the 20-member Swiss Market Index, which rose 0.5 percent.

The cold weather “will depress first-quarter sales and may create a shorter growing season in 2013,” analysts at Liberum in London, led by Sophie Jourdier, wrote in a note to customers, cutting their recommendation on the stock to hold. “We remain positive on the long-term outlook, but believe the shares are up with events in the short-term.”

Average temperatures in northwest Europe since the start of February have been 2 degrees to 4 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) below normal, slowing spring growth, according to agricultural researcher Arvalis. Soil temperatures in southwest France last week were still too cold to plant corn, Arvalis said.

Soil temperatures in the northern U.S. corn belt are 30 to 37 degrees Fahrenheit, while corn seeds require fields to be at least 52 degrees to germinate, forecaster Martell Crop Projections wrote yesterday. Snow cover will delay spring-wheat planting in North Dakota by at least 10 days, according to Martell.

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