October 11, 2013 / 2:51 PM / 5 years ago

Stock of Canada's Potash Corp, Agrium hits recent lows

Oct 11 (Reuters) - Shares of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc slipped in early trading on Friday, after the world’s biggest fertilizer producer estimated quarterly profit would fall below analysts’ expectations as customers delayed potash purchases.

Shares of rival Canadian fertilizer producer Agrium Inc also slid, after activist investor Jana Partners LLC reported that it had cut its stake in the fertilizer and farm retail company.

Potash stocks have been under pressure since midsummer, when the biggest global producer, Uralkali OAO, quit its export partnership with Belaruskali and said it would seek to maximize sales volumes.

Potash Corp stock was down 1.4 percent in Toronto at C$32.51, touching a 10-day low. Agrium shares dropped 0.5 percent in Toronto to C$85.49, slipping to their lowest level in two months.

Shares of U.S.-based Mosaic Co, North America’s second-biggest potash producer, were down 2.3 percent at $45.19 on the New York Stock Exchange.

After markets closed on Thursday, Potash Corp said it expects third-quarter earnings of 41 cents per share, below its earlier forecast of 45 to 60 cents per share.

Analysts on average expected earnings of 47 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“POT’s revised guidance reflects the acute market uncertainty and lingering turmoil battering global potash markets,” wrote Raymond James analyst Steve Hansen in a note to clients. “Buyers seem intent on deferring purchases with the hope of securing lower prices.”

Potash Corp reports third-quarter results on Oct. 24, the first of the North American potash producers.

In September, Agrium warned that its third-quarter potash volumes are expected to be about 30 percent lower than normal. Mosaic earlier cut its third-quarter outlook for the price and sales volumes of potash and phosphate.

Jana, which was Agrium’s largest shareholder with a 7.5 percent stake, cut its holding in the company to 2.7 percent as of Oct. 8, according to a regulatory filing.

Jana’s share selloff helps explain the recent weak performance of Agrium stock, said Scotiabank analyst Ben Isaacson in a note.

Jana had pushed for a breakup of Agrium, along with better reporting of its retail division and increased capital return to shareholders. ($1=$1.04 Canadian) (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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