August 3, 2011 / 1:45 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 3-Agrium profit tops expectations; shares rise

* Q2 EPS $4.54 Vs $3.28 a yr ago

* Q2 adj EPS from continuing operations $4.56

* Shares up 3 pct (Adds dateline, details on results, analyst comment; Figures in U.S dollars, unless noted)

TORONTO, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer maker and farm products retailer Agrium AGU.TO reported a 39 percent increase in its quarterly profit that topped expectations, as surging grain prices stoked demand for crop nutrients, seeds and crop protection chemicals.

Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium said farmers in some parts of Canada and the United States were unable to cultivate all the acreage, or apply all the nutrients, they would have liked to this spring, due to bad weather. The company expects this to lead to increased demand for nutrients this fall.

Agrium, the largest North American farm products retailer, expects robust demand for nitrogen, phosphate and potash-based nutrients in the latter half of this year. It also expects nutrient markets to be tight, due to below-average inventory levels and strong demand. This bodes well for Agrium as it could drive pricing gains and boost profit margins.

Ticonderoga Securities analyst Mark Gulley noted Agrium’s second-quarter results were consistent with the better-than-expected results reported by rivals Mosaic (MOS.N) and Potash Corp POT.TO in recent weeks.

Net income in the quarter ended June 30 rose to $718 million, or $4.54 per share, up from a year-ago profit of $518 million, or $3.28 a share.

Excluding a share-based payment recovery, earnings from continuing operations were $721 million, or $4.56 a share, the company said.

Analysts, on average, had forecast earnings of $4.26 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Agrium’s quarterly revenue rose 40 percent to $6.20 billion.

Shares of Agrium were up 3 percent at $88.22 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Euan Rocha in Toronto and Aftab Ahmed in Bangalore; Editing by Derek Caney)

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