UPDATE 2-Agrium boosts Q4 profit outlook; shares rally

Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:26am EST
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* Sees Q4 profit just above $2/shr, Street view $1.73/shr

* Strong North American fertilizer demand boosts results

* Agrium shares rise more than 3 pct on NYSE, TSX

By Euan Rocha

TORONTO, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Canada's Agrium Inc raised its fourth-quarter earnings outlook on Thursday as strong grain and oilseed prices spurred demand for its fertilizer products in North America over the fall season.

The Calgary, Alberta-based fertilizer maker, also the largest retailer of farm products in the region, said it now expects quarterly earnings of slightly more than $2 a share, excluding one-time items, sending its shares more than 3 percent higher in early trading.

Agrium, under pressure from activist shareholder Jana Partners to split its retail and wholesale arms and make other changes to improve returns, had forecast earnings of $1.50 to $1.90 a share for the period.

Analysts, on average, were expecting $1.73 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Agrium is set to announce detailed fourth-quarter and full-year results on Feb. 22.   Continued...