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Aug 9, 2017

Agrium profit falls as demand for phosphate, nitrogen wanes

Agrium's headquarters building in Calgary

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Canadian fertilizer maker Agrium Inc (AGU.TO) on Wednesday reported quarterly profit and revenue that edged past analysts' estimates, helped by higher selling prices for potash.

Agrium sold 714,000 tons of wholesale potash in the second quarter ended June 30 at an average price of US$210 per ton, compared with 697,000 tons at US$194 per ton a year earlier.

Potash demand has been robust so far this year, helped by low prices and brisk offshore sales by Canpotex Ltd, the export company owned by Agrium, Potash and Mosaic Co (MOS.N). Canpotex signed supply contracts this month with buyers in China for shipments of 1.4 million tonnes through 2017.

However, the company's retail sales fell 1.5 per cent to US$5.71 billion.



Sales of nitrogen, potash and phosphate, in the wholesale business segment, were also down 3.9 per cent at US$848 million.

Net earnings attributable to shareholders in the second quarter ended June 30 fell to US$558 million, or US$4.03 per share, from US$565 million, or US$4.08 per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company had earned US$4.09 cents per share. Analysts on average had expected earnings per share of US$4.01, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales fell 1.5 per cent to US$6.32 billion, slightly above analysts' estimates of US$6.31 billion.

Agrium, which is merging with Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO), also lowered the upper end of its full-year earnings per share forecast range to US$5.25 from US$5.75, citing weak nitrogen pricing environment and challenging weather conditions.

The company also maintained the lower end of its earnings forecast at US$4.75 per share.