CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Potash Corp's profit beats on higher potash sales; outlook misses

Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:18pm EST
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(Corrects 2014 potash sales in third last paragraph to 9.3 million tonnes)

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's shares rose more than 3 percent Thursday in Toronto and New York, touching their highest level since May 2012 in Toronto. By mid-morning investors pared gains to less than 1 percent.

The company late on Wednesday increased its dividend by 9 percent to 38 cents per quarter.

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 of the crop nutrient 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.

"I think all in all (Potash results) were pretty positive," said Robert "Hap" Sneddon, president of Ontario portfolio management company CastleMoore Inc, which manages Potash shares and sees the Toronto-listed stock climbing to at least C$55 this year from around C$46 currently.

Rival Mosaic Co forecast higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit earlier this month, while Canadian fertilizer company Agrium Inc said it would buy back shares and pay a larger percentage of free cash flow as dividends.   Continued...