UPDATE 3-Mosaic profit plunges 70 pct on weaker prices, sales

Tue Nov 5, 2013 11:26am EST
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By Rod Nickel

Nov 5 (Reuters) - Mosaic Co reported sharply lower third-quarter earnings on Tuesday as prices of its potash and phosphate fell with buyers taking a cautious stance, and the U.S. fertilizer company said prices may remain weak into 2014.

Shares of Mosaic, the world's largest producer of finished phosphate products and North America's second-biggest potash producer, dropped 1 percent to $46.24 in late-morning trading in New York.

Mosaic in September cut its third-quarter sales and price outlook for potash and phosphate because crop nutrient markets softened after the July 30 breakup of Belarusian Potash Co (BPC), which triggered a price slide.

A delayed U.S. crop harvest also pushed back autumn fertilizer use, said Mosaic Chief Executive Jim Prokopanko.

He said North American demand looked strong for the rest of 2013, but pricing might be challenging in 2014.

With potash prices weak, Mosaic might curtail production at its high-cost Carlsbad, New Mexico, mine, depending on where prices move, but is also potentially interested in buying other North American potash assets, Prokopanko said in an interview.

"We're always interested in expanding top-line growth. At the right valuations, those kind of combinations might prove of interest," he said when asked about Mosaic's potential interest in U.S. producer Intrepid Potash Inc or a Canadian potash mine under construction by Germany's K+S AG.   Continued...