UPDATE 2-Agrium warns of lower potash volumes but hikes payout

Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:59am EDT
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* Wholesale nitrogen, phosphate sales volumes also seen lower

* Says customer demand delayed across all three nutrients

* Shares fall 2.4 percent in New York

* Raises dividend by 50 percent

By Rod Nickel and Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay

Sept 23 (Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer company Agrium Inc warned that its potash volumes are expected to be about 30 percent lower than normal in the current quarter, but raised its dividend 50 percent, saying that agriculture's longer-term fundamentals are strong.

Potash prices have slipped since mid-summer, when the biggest global producer Uralkali OAO quit its export partnership with Belaruskali and said it would seek to maximize sales volumes.

Shares of potash producers have slid sharply since then, although Agrium has lost only 4 percent, since it is more dependent on nitrogen production. Agrium stock fell 2.3 percent to $87.89 on the New York Stock Exchange in early trading Monday.

The company said wholesale nitrogen and phosphate sales volumes are expected to be down 20 and 30 percent, respectively,   Continued...