January 28, 2009 / 11:25 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Intrepid Potash slows production to trim inventory

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Intrepid Potash Inc IPI.N said on Wednesday it would temporarily halt production and then cut shifts at its New Mexico facilities to pare back inventory as sales of crop nutrients remain weak.

“While Intrepid anticipates that this reduction in our production rates to be short-lived, the timing of market demand and sales conditions will ultimately drive the level of production,” the company said in a statement.

Two of its three facilities in Carlsbad, New Mexico, will shut for two weeks starting Feb. 9, followed by a two-week shutdown at the third one after that. Operations would then resume with three crew shifts instead of four, Intrepid said.

Fertilizer prices jumped early last year, but the global credit crisis and deep economic downturn have weighed on the agricultural sector, and farmers have been deferring fertilizer application amid weakening grain markets.

Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO, the world’s biggest fertilizer company, reported strong quarterly profits last week but gave a weaker-than-expected 2009 forecast [ID:nN22490347].

Shares of Denver-based Intrepid, which are down by a third since their debut on the New York Stock Exchange last April, peaked at $76.24 in June. They closed at $21.90, up 9 cents, on Wednesday before the news was released. A few after-hours trades showed they were lower following the announcement. (Reporting by Braden Reddall; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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