November 7, 2012 / 12:47 PM / 6 years ago

Agrium profits plunge, outlook lower than expected

(Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer company Agrium Inc AGU.TO AGU.N reported lower quarterly profit on Wednesday due to downtime at its potash mine and dragged-out contract talks with China and India, the company said.

Net earnings for the third quarter ended September 30 fell to $129 million, or 80 cents diluted earnings per share, from $293 million, or $1.85 per share a year ago.

Excluding items, net earnings would have been $215 million or $1.34 diluted earnings per share.

Analysts were expecting, on average, earnings per share of $1.82, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company, which produces nitrogen, potash and phosphate fertilizers, forecast fourth-quarter earnings per share in a range from $1.50 to $1.90, lower than expectations of $2.10.

Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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