TORONTO, June 12 (Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer maker and farm products retailer Agrium Inc said it expects its second-quarter earnings to be at or near the top of its forecast range due to higher prices for some of its wholesale fertilizer products.
The Calgary-based company has forecast earnings per share from continuing operations at $4.18 to $4.78, excluding one-time items. Analysts had been forecasting average earnings of $4.57 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"The outlook remains very positive, supported by the strong global grain prices and a balanced-to-tight international nutrient supply demand situation," Chief Executive Mike Wilson said in a statement late on Monday.
Agrium, the largest farm products retailer in North America, more than doubled its dividend last week, less than six months after it quadrupled the semi-annual payout.
Agrium, one of the world's top producers of nitrogen-based fertilizers like urea and ammonia, is investing about $1.5 billion to expand its potash production capacity and capitalize on rising demand for the crop nutrient.
It is also expanding its farm retail network with the acquisition of the bulk of Viterra Inc's retail assets, a C$1.65 billion ($1.60 billion) side deal as Glencore International PLC acquires Viterra.