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Agrium Forecast Disappoints on Late Start to Spring Season

April 2 (Bloomberg) -- Agrium Inc., the largest U.S. farm-products retailer, said a late start to the spring season means first-quarter earnings will be just above break-even, missing analysts’ estimates.

The company’s wholesale operations were also affected by lower rail availability, Calgary-based Agrium said today in a statement. Its Carseland nitrogen-fertilizer plant suffered the failure of an auxiliary boiler and there will be an unplanned shutdown to make repairs, which should be complete in the second half of May.

Agrium dropped 1.4 percent to C$106.09 at the close in Toronto.

Cold, dry weather this year has reduced the outlook for winter crops in the U.S., the top exporter, while a rail backlog has delayed supplies from Canada.

The average of 21 estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for first-quarter earnings of 54 cents a share. Agrium reports its earnings on May 6.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Casey in New York at scasey4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net Stephen Cunningham

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