Canada's Agrium posts bigger-than-expected third-quarter loss

(Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer maker Agrium Inc AGU.TOAGU.N, the world's biggest farm retailer, reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss as demand for its products was reduced by severe dry weather in Australia and Canada.

The company cut its full-year forecast for earnings per share from continuing operations to between $4.65 and $4.80, from its previous estimate of $4.75 to $5.25, on expectations of dry weather in Australia and parts of Brazil.

Expenses rose 4.5 percent due to maintenance turnarounds at the company’s production facilities and higher natural gas input costs.

Earlier today, Agrium said it had received approval from Chinese regulatory authorities regarding its merger with Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO, but still requires U.S. regulatory approval.

The company’s net loss increased to $251 million, or $1.84 cents per share, in the third quarter, from $39 million, or 29 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company lost 23 cents per share, bigger than the loss of 5 cents per share expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Agrium said sales rose 8.7 percent to $2.38 billion.

Reporting by Karan Nagarkatti; Editing by Sandra Maler and Diane Craft