September 14, 2009 / 1:30 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Uralkali sees strong recovery in potash demand

* Potash market recovery expected in the coming winter

* Net profit falls 67 percent to 4.5 billion roubles

* EBITDA was 7.41 billion roubles, EBITDA margin 59 percent

* No interim dividend planned

(Adds more detail, conference call)

By Aleksandras Budrys

MOSCOW, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Russian fertiliser maker Uralkali (URKA.MM) forecast sales would rise 50 percent in 2010 when it expects potash demand in Europe and Asia to recover from lows that pushed its first-half profit down 67 percent.

“We expect long-term supply contracts with key potash buyers worldwide to help raise capacity utilisation and improve productive output,” Uralkali said on Monday.

Oleg Petrov, head of sales of Belorussian Potash Co, Uralkali’s Belarus-based sales agent, said he expected increased demand from major consumer China this winter.

“We expect to sign a contract with China until the end of this year,” Petrov said.

Uralkali’s first-half net profit fell to 4.5 billion roubles ($146 million) with revenues more than halving to 13.9 billion.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) at London-listed Uralkali, whose main shareholder is Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, were 7.4 billion roubles, down from 18.3 billion in January-June 2008.

Uralkali said its EBITDA margin in the first six months of this year was 59 percent, down from 76 percent a year ago.

“Over the period potash sales volumes have remained lower as buyers continued to operate conservatively in the aftermath of the global economic downturn,” Uralkali said.

The company said it had sold 900,000 tonnes of potash in the first half without giving the year-ago volumes. Some 30 percent was sold domestically.

Fertiliser output fell 57 percent to 1.135 million tonnes.

Chief executive Vladislav Baumgertner said on a conference call the company planned no interim dividends so far, adding: “It is too early to talk about the whole year”.

Uralkali paid $334.2 million in dividend for the first half of 2008. It did not pay dividends for the full year of 2008.

Baumgertner said all projects were proceeding as planned, including an increase of its design capacity to 7 million tonnes of potash per year by 2011 from 5.5 million this year.

He said that this year, under an agreement with the government, Uralkaly has been supplying Russian complex fertiliser producers at “favourable terms” of 3,950 roubles ($128) per tonne. “However, as soon as the market starts to recover we may adjust our terms and conditions of supply to complex fertiliser producers,” he said. (Reporting by Aleksandras Budrys; Editing by Dan Lalor) ($1 = 30.86 roubles)

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