Nutrien sees demand growth cooling, margins shrink in 2018

(Reuters) - Nutrien Ltd, the Canadian fertilizer and farm supply dealer created from the merger of Agrium Inc and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan this year, said it expected demand growth for potash in China and India to cool down in 2018

Nutrien, the world’s biggest fertilizer company by capacity, also said higher input costs would shrink nitrogen and phosphate margins.

The company, reporting its first results since the merger, said it expects full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $3.2 billion to $3.7 billion, and earnings per share of between $2.10 and $2.60.

Chief Executive Chuck Magro said that following the merger, the company achieved $40 million in run-rate synergies and was “focused on capturing half a billion dollars” in annual merger synergies by the end of 2019.

The acquisition of Brazil’s Agrichem in January would help Nutrien gain foothold in the country, which is seen as a driver of crop prices in the coming months.

Nutrien said fourth-quarter net earnings for Agrium fell to $18 million, or 13 cents per share, from $67 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier.

Potash Corp reported a net loss from continuing operations of $120 million, or 14 cents per share, from a profit of $13 million, or 2 cents per share, a year earlier.

Agrium’s total sales rose 9.5 percent to $2.45 billion, while Potash Corp’s sales were up 2 percent at $1.08 billion.

Nutrien’s U.S.-listed shares were down 5 percent in aftermarket trading on the New York Stock Exchange to $47.50.

Reporting by Karan Nagarkatti in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler