November 12, 2008 / 6:54 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Agrium outlook brightens for fourth quarter

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TORONTO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Agrium Inc AGU.TO AGU.N said on Wednesday it could have another round of record results in the fourth quarter as crop supply fundamentals remain strong, the company’s CFO told Reuters on Wednesday.

The outlook marks a shift in the company’s guidance from earlier this month when it signaled that the end of the year could be slow if farmers defer fertilizer applications until early in 2009.

“We have had some tail-offs in pricing for some of our products, but we just announced a record third quarter and we’re going to have a very good fourth quarter,” CFO Bruce Waterman said on the sidelines of a conference in Toronto. “Our guidance would indicate it could be another record quarter.”

The world’s third-largest nitrogen producer and the top U.S. retailer of crop supplies reported Nov. 5 a higher third-quarter profit that topped analyst expectations, but it had warned of the possibility of a slower fourth quarter.

“We’re obviously watching the commodity prices but the fundamentals are very strong for our business,” Waterman said on Wednesday.

Commodity prices have fallen sharply from record peaks since summer on deepening worries about the health of the global economy, undermining the outlooks and stock prices of big agricultural companies.

Waterman said Agrium was well-placed to weather the global financial crisis and added that the company remained on the lookout for potential acquisitions.

“We look at things all the time and as I said we’re going to be very prudent,” he said. “There are opportunities and hopefully we’ll have a chance to take advantage of those opportunities.”

Waterman said Agrium was well-buffered against the financial crisis because it expanded its credit lines and trimmed its debt “before things got tight.” (Reporting by John McCrank; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Frank McGurty)

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