viewAgrium Inc.

Agrium expects first half earnings to be near top end of guidance range


Fertilizer supplier Agrium (TSE:AGU) (NYSE:AGU) reported late Monday it expects its earnings in the first half of the year to be near or at the top end of its prior guidance range thanks to strong grain prices and performance in its crop input business.

The Calgary-based company said it expects earnings from continuing operations in the first half to be near or at the top of its prior $5.50 to $6.10 per share guidance.

For the second quarter, Agrium foresees earnings from continuing operations to be near the high-end of its $4.18 to $4.78 per share forecast range.

Agrium’s guidance excludes hedging gains or losses, as well as share-based payments expenses.

“These impressive first half earnings are due to excellent results across our crop input business,” chief executive Mike Wilson said in a statement.

“The outlook remains very positive, supported by the strong global grain prices and a balanced-to-tight international nutrient supply demand situation.

“Agrium's strategic investment across the crop input value chain continues to benefit from the strength in these underlying fundamentals.”

The guidance assumes that wholesale nutrient prices for the second quarter will be slightly higher than last year for nitrogen and potash, and slightly lower for phosphate.

Wholesale fertilizer sales volumes for nitrogen and potash products are expected to be slightly lower in the second quarter than the 2011 period, Agrium said.

It projected fertilizer margin percentages in its North American retail segment to be lower in the second quarter, with chemical percentages to be slightly higher compared to the same period in 2011.

Agrium is a major fertilizer company with operations in North America and Argentina. It makes potash, nitrogen and phosphates as well as controlled release fertilizers and micronutrients. It has more than 11,000 employees.

The company, which has a market capitalization of $12.85 billion, saw its share price close at $81.32 per share Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Quick facts: Agrium Inc.

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Market: TSX
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