May 3, 2016 / 10:02 PM / in a year

Fertilizer maker Agrium's profit misses estimates

President and CEO Chuck Magro of Agrium addresses shareholders during the company's annual general meeting in Calgary, Alberta, May 6, 2015. REUTERS/Todd Korol

(Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer producer Agrium Inc (AGU.TO) reported lower-than-expected quarterly profit and cut its 2016 profit forecast as nutrient prices remain weak.

The company’s U.S.-listed shares (AGU.N) were down 2 percent at $83.88 in after-market trading on Tuesday.

Larger rival Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) cut its full-year profit forecast last week, citing weak demand and low prices. The company reported an 80 percent drop in profit.

Agrium cut its 2016 profit forecast to $5.25-$6.25 per share from $5.50-$7.00.

Net earnings attributable to shareholders fell to $2 million, or 2 cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $12 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier.

The drop in earnings was marginally mitigated by an increase in sales in its retail operations and strong wholesale revenue.

Retail sales rose 1.2 percent to $2.3 billion. Agrium bought 27 retail outlets in Canada and the United States during the quarter.

Agrium is North America’s biggest retail seller of seed, fertilizer and chemicals directly to farmers.

On an adjusted basis, earnings were 5 cents per share, missing the average analyst estimate by a cent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total sales fell 5 percent to $2.72 billion.

Reporting by Rod Nickel and Vishaka George; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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