Nutrien's 2019 profit forecast misses estimates

(Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer maker Nutrien Ltd forecast 2019 profit below analysts’ estimates, citing continued pressure on crop prices from record 2018 yields and the impact of the US-China trade dispute.

An escalating trade war has weighed on demand for soybeans and corn, dragging crop prices lower. Crop prices are a major factor in spending on fertilizer and other supplies.

Nutrien said it expected a profit of $2.80 to 3.20 per share for the year, while analysts were expecting $3.41 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company also missed estimates for fourth-quarter earnings due to weak demand for crop protection products as adverse U.S. weather hurt use of herbicide in fall season.

Sales of crop protection products fell 9.6 percent in the quarter, it said.

The company, formed by the merger of Agrium Inc and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan in January last year, reported net income from continuing operations of $296 million in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Nutrien’s pro forma loss was $120 million in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 54 cents per share, narrowly missing profit expectations of 55 cents.

The company recorded a $276 million write-down in the fourth quarter of 2017 related to its phosphate and sulfate business.

Sales rose to $3.76 billion from $1.08 billion, but missed estimates of $3.97 billion.

Reporting by Debroop Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Anil D’Silva