November 4, 2009 / 12:31 PM / 10 years ago

CORRECTED - UPDATE 2-Agrium third-quarter profit plummets

(Fixes paragraph 8 to show the forecast refers to fourth-quarter 2009 and not second-half 2009)

* Q3 EPS $0.16 Vs $2.31 a yr-ago

* Excluding items, Q3 EPS $0.29

* Quarterly revenue down 41 pct to $1.89 bln

* Shares up 2 percent in early trading (Adds details on results; All figures in U.S. dollars)

TORONTO, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer maker and agricultural products retailer Agrium Inc AGU.TO AGU.N reported a 93 percent plunge in its third-quarter profit on Wednesday, largely due to lower prices and margins on crop nutrient sales.

Agrium, which is locked in a lengthy battle to take over U.S. rival CF Industries Holdings Inc (CF.N), said it earned $26 million, or 16 cents a share in the quarter, compared with a year-earlier profit of $367 million, or $2.31 a share.

Excluding one-time items, the Calgary, Alberta-based company said quarterly earnings would have been $46 million, or 29 cents a share.

The company said earnings from its retail business this quarter were impacted by lower fungicide application rates, along with weak fertilizer demand.

Quarterly sales fell 41 percent to $1.89 billion.

Agrium had previously warned that it expected third-quarter earnings to be 90 percent to 95 percent below those of the year-ago period. [ID:nBNG237646]

However, Agrium said it anticipates significant recovery in demand across nearly all crop inputs starting in early 2010, particularly for the retail and potash businesses.

Excluding one-time items, the company said it expects fourth-quarter 2009 earnings between 14 cents and 44 cents a share.

Agrium’s shares rose 2 percent to $48.90 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange. ($1= $1.06 Canadian) (Reporting by Euan Rocha, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Maureen Bavdek)

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