UPDATE 3-Potash Corp's profit beats on higher potash sales; outlook misses

Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:41pm EST
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(Adds CEO comments on demand, equity stakes)

By Sneha Banerjee and Rod Nickel

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Potash Corp of Saskatchewan , the world's biggest fertilizer company by market capitalization, reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit on strong potash sales, but its 2015 outlook disappointed.

Potash Corp sold 2.5 million tonnes of potash, the most ever in a fourth quarter and up 42 percent year over year. Its average realized potash price was $284 per tonne, up marginally from a year earlier.

Prices have been slow to recover since the breakup in mid-2013 of one of the world's biggest potash traders, Belarusian Potash Company, but softer prices have stimulated demand.

"We saw a balance here, and part of the reason is affordability," said Potash Corp Chief Executive Jochen Tilk in an interview. "And we expect that to be the case this year."

Tilk is reviewing equity stakes in China's Sinofert Holdings Ltd, Israel Chemicals, Jordan's Arab Potash Co Plc and Chile's SQM, with an eye toward taking control.

That review could take 12 months, Tilk said, adding that Potash Corp has not spoken with the Israeli government.

Potash tried to buy control of Israel Chemicals under previous CEO Bill Doyle, but was rebuffed in 2013 by the Israeli government, which holds a golden share.   Continued...