By Ashutosh Pandey and Rod Nickel
Oct 30 (Reuters) - Mosaic Co on Thursday forecast record-high global phosphate and potash shipments in 2015 despite concerns that weak crop prices would reduce farmers’ fertilizer purchases.
The Plymouth, Minnesota-based company’s quarterly profit jumped 63 percent as it sold more phosphate at higher prices, but the results missed analysts’ estimates.
The world’s largest producer of finished phosphate products said 2015 global shipments look to reach 64.5 million to 66.5 million tonnes, up from 64 million to 65 million this year. Mosaic forecast global shipments of potash, which it mines in Western Canada, would increase to between 58 million and 60 million tonnes from 57 million to 58 million.
Corn and wheat prices plunged this autumn to multiyear lows amid a huge but delayed U.S. harvest. Those factors have caused farmers to back off on fertilizer purchases, especially of potash and phosphate, U.S. retailers say.
“Yeah, there’s ups and downs, dips and valleys, but the trend is unrelenting,” said Chief Executive Officer Jim Prokopanko. “It is upward.”
Dan Basse, president of research company AgResource said on Wednesday in Winnipeg that lower profitability would lead farmers to reduce their biggest expenses, such as seed, nitrogen fertilizer and land.
“We have farmers in the United States this upcoming crop year that will try to get by without using much fertilizer,” Basse said.
Mosaic’s phosphate volumes rose 22.2 percent to 3.3 million tonnes in the third quarter. Net phosphate sales rose 21 percent to $1.7 billion.
The average realized price of diammonium phosphate rose 5.7 percent to $461 per tonne.
Mosaic said in September that it would reduce phosphate output due to rising costs of raw materials, sulfur and ammonia.
The company said its phosphate sales would fall to between 2.5 million and 2.8 million tonnes in the current quarter from 3.4 million a year earlier, with prices ranging from $430 to $450 per tonne.
Mosaic expects potash sales to rise to between 2 million and 2.3 million tonnes this quarter from 1.9 million tonnes. It forecast prices at $275 to $295 per tonne.
The company reported a nearly 29 percent rise in potash sales to 1.8 million tonnes in the third quarter. However, a decline in average selling prices to $291 per tonne from $342 a year earlier offset the benefit from the higher volume.
Mosaic’s net earnings rose to $202 million, or 54 cents per share, in the third quarter from $124 million, or 29 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding restructuring expenses and other one-time items, the company earned 56 cents per share. Analysts on average had expected a profit of 59 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net sales rose 21 percent to $2.3 billion.
Shares of Mosaic were up 0.7 percent at $43.01 in morning trading. (Reporting by Ashutosh Pandey in Bangalore and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Kirti Pandey and Lisa Von Ahn)