UPDATE 5-Potash profit off 22 pct on standoff with China, India
* Earnings come in just below analysts' estimates
* Earnings per share for 2012 seen at $2.40 to $2.60
* Weaker fourth-quarter view seen, but shares steady
By Rod Nickel
Oct 25 (Reuters) - Potash Corp of Saskatchewan's third-quarter earnings fell 22 percent as a standoff over new contracts led to a sharp drop in shipments to China and India, the world's two biggest consumers of the company's namesake crop nutrient.
The world's biggest fertilizer maker said on Thursday that overseas potash shipments by North American producers dropped by one quarter to 1.9 million tonnes in the period. China accounted for just 12 percent of sales and India 5 percent.
"The weakness obviously is in China and India, but that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone," said analyst Spencer Churchill of Paradigm Capital.
Potash Corp, Agrium Inc and Mosaic Co conduct offshore potash sales from their mines in western Canada through the marketing agency Canpotex.
Analysts had expected Canpotex to renew supply contracts with China and India in late summer, but now they say it may take until late 2012 or early 2013. Continued...