Mosaic results miss estimates as phosphate sales plunge

Tue Oct 2, 2012 11:40am EDT

(Reuters) - Fertilizer producer Mosaic Co (MOS.N) posted a lower-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday as sales of phosphate, a key farming nutrient, plunged 30 percent due to plant repairs and bad weather.

Mosaic had little phosphate to sell as the quarter began due to low production at a key Florida mine. While it has since produced more fertilizer there, the supply problem was only compounded by August's Hurricane Isaac and long factory maintenance times, hindering the company's ability to meet demand from farmers.

"We get these operational glitches, and some of them are weather-driven," Chief Executive Officer Jim Prokopanko told Reuters. "I don't think there's been anything, though, that would cast a cloud over the horizon."

Still, the company's shares were down 4.5 percent at $55.42 in morning trading.

Prokopanko said the stock drop showed Wall Street suffers from "short-termitis," and he noted that Mosaic's quarterly production fell in a previously announced forecast range.

"Looking at what happened in the last three months and what may happen in the next three months doesn't take away from the extraordinary positive outlook we have on this business," he said.

Demand remains strong despite a summer drought that plagued more than half of the contiguous United States, which accounts for half of the world's corn exports, as farmers hoard fertilizer ahead of 2013 plantings, Mosaic said.

The bad weather wreaked havoc on final U.S. corn yields, pushing prices for the grain near record highs. That only encourages farmers to plant more - and use more fertilizer - next year.

For the first quarter ended on August 31, the company reported net income of $429.4 million, or $1.01 per share, compared with $526 million, or $1.17 a share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average expected earnings of $1.15 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell 19 percent to $2.51 billion. Analysts expected $2.68 billion.

Prices for phosphate, the second-most important fertilizer for farmers, fell to $529 per metric ton in the quarter from $576 a year earlier.

Prices for potash were flat at $444 per metric ton, the company said.

(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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