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Agrium more than doubles dividend

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Agrium (TSE:AGU) announced Thursday that it will more than double its dividend to 50 cents per share, a result of the agricultural products company’s positive earnings outlook.

Agrium’s board of directors has approved the .275 cents per share increase to the semi-annual dividend declared on May 11, 2012, to 50 cents per share, or $1 annualized.

The amount is to be paid on July 12, 2012, to shareholders of record on July 01, 2012.

"The further increase in our dividend is an indication of the strength in our earnings outlook across both our Retail and Wholesale operations and how our growth strategy has continued to deliver results for the benefit of shareholders," said Agrium’s president and CEO, Mike Wilson.

Last month, Agrium (TSE:AGU) (NYSE:AGU) said fiscal first quarter profit dropped due to hedging losses and higher costs in the period, which masked a 23 percent rise in sales.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company sells everything from crop nutrients to potash, herbicide and also fungicide to the agricultural industry.

In the January-March period, net earnings slumped to $155 million, or 97 cents per share, versus $171 million, or $1.09 per share, a year ago.

Removing a pre-tax loss on natural gas and other hedge positions and a share-based payment expense, the company would have earned $210 million, or $1.32 per share.

The company said sales rose 23 percent to $3.63 billion, on higher volumes across its product lines.

Its retail segment saw sales jump 35 percent to $2.5 billion, on strong demand for crop input products and services within North America.

Agrium is among the largest North American retailers of agricultural inputs such as seeds, nutrients and crop protection chemicals.

Shares of Agrium rose 1.8 per cent Thursday morning in Toronto to $81.91.

Quick facts: Agrium Inc.

Price: - CAD

TSX:AGU
Market: TSX
Market Cap: -
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