By Rod Nickel and Soham Chatterjee
Nov 5 Canadian fertilizer company Agrium Inc
reported on Tuesday a sharply lower
third-quarter profit and a disappointing forecast for the
current fourth quarter.
Uncertainty in fertilizer markets, combined with a late
North America growing season caused many buyers to delay crop
nutrient purchases, said Chief Executive Mike Wilson.
Potash prices have slipped since mid-summer, when the
biggest global producer Uralkali OAO quit its export
partnership, Belarusian Potash Company (BPC), with Belaruskali
and said it would seek to maximize sales volumes.
BPC was one of the world's two biggest potash trading
companies, along with North America's Canpotex Ltd, owned by
Mosaic Co, Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc and
Agrium's U.S.-listed shares eased 0.1 percent after normal
trading hours. They finished on Tuesday at $87.27.
The Calgary, Alberta-based company forecast fourth-quarter
earnings of 80 cents to $1.25 per share, well below analysts'
expectations of $1.51.
Outages at Agrium's Redwater, Alberta, and Carseland,
Alberta, nitrogen facilities reduced product availability in the
third quarter and will also affect fourth-quarter sales volumes,
Wilson said, adding that they will reduce fourth-quarter
earnings by approximately 20 cents per share.
Net earnings for the third quarter fell 41 percent to $76
million, or 52 cents per share, compared with $129 million, or
80 cents per share, a year ago.
Adjusted earnings per share were $73 million, or 50 cents
On that basis, analysts on average expected Agrium to earn
57 cents a share in the third quarter, according to Thomson
Revenue for the company rose to $2.87 billion from $2.83
billion, exceeding expectations for $2.82 billion.
Wholesale sales of nitrogen, potash and phosphate decreased
by 24 percent to $752 million due to lower realized sales prices
across all products and the plant outages, Agrium said.
Agrium warned in September that its potash volumes were
expected to be about 30 percent lower than normal in the third
Retail sales of products like fertilizer, chemicals and seed
to farmers increased by 15 percent to $2.1 billion.