Yara Q3 profit lags forecast, sees high winter gas cost

OSLO, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Fertiliser maker Yara International reported a smaller than expected increase in third-quarter earnings on Thursday as higher production was partly offset by the rising cost of natural gas, a key input.

The Norwegian company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 16 percent year-on-year to $402 million before non-recurring items, short of the $458 million seen in a Reuters poll of analysts.

“Yara’s operating environment is improving, due to a combination of higher grain prices and receding urea supply pressure, resulting in an improving urea price trend,” the company said in its third-quarter report.

“However, gas prices have increased in many regions including Europe, and look set to stay high through this winter,” Yara added.

The company’s plan to improve annual profits by at least $500 million by 2020 has so far resulted in gains of $330 million, up from $310 million at the end of the second quarter, it said. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Ole Petter Skonnord)