Bayer shares plunge on Monsanto ruling

An alternative to Roundup could be more toxic chemicals Federated Farmers says

Shares in Bayer have plunged more than 10% today to their lowest in nearly two years, after a California jury ordered the German company's subsidiary Monsanto to pay $289m in damages last week.

(Many work out of Europe, where extended August vacations are in full swing.) Leacock, however, cut his rating on Bayer to Hold from Outperform on Sunday, and slashed his price target to 90 euros a share from €135.

Groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, diagnosed in 2014 with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - a cancer that affects white blood cells - says he repeatedly used a professional form of Roundup while working at a school in Benicia, California.

Monsanto has denied a link between the active ingredient in Roundup - glyphosate - and cancer, saying hundreds of studies have established that glyphosate is safe.

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Bayer completed its takeover of Monsanto on 7 June for $63bn (£49bn), and said at the time that it planned to no longer use the Monsanto name. There are now more than 5,000 similar lawsuits in the US against Monsanto's weed killers, according to Reuters, with Johnson's trial coming first because doctors claimed that he was close to dying.

Jurors in state Superior Court agreed the product contributed to Johnson's cancer and the company should have provided a label warning of the potential health hazard.

Johnson's attorney Timothy Litzenburg told CNN that Monsanto's appeal will still prove costly for Bayer as the company will have to pay interest on the damages, believed to be about $25 million a year, while the court reviews its findings.

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