CF Earnings Exceed Estimates Amid ‘Strong’ Market for Ammonia

CF Industries Holdings Inc., the largest U.S. maker of nitrogen fertilizer, reported fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates amid a “strong” market for ammonia.

Net income climbed to $470.7 million, or $7.40 a share, from $438.9 million, or $6.66, a year earlier, the Deerfield, Illinois-based company said today in a statement. Profit excluding gas and foreign-exchange derivative gains was $7.27 a share, topping the $6.96 average of 19 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales declined to $1.48 billion from $1.72 billion a year earlier, less than the $1.58 billion average of 13 estimates.

CF said it saw record ammonia shipments in 2012. Farmers are using more nitrogen-based fertilizers after corn futures reached a record $8.49 a bushel in August and soybeans rose to their highest ever a month later, putting more money in their pockets. Cool, dry weather in November in parts of the U.S. also was conducive to the application of fertilizers.

“Every indication is that weather conditions were decent this fall,” Chris Damas, a Barrie, Ontario-based investment analyst at BCMI Research, said in a telephone interview before the results were released.

(CF Industries scheduled a conference call for tomorrow at 10 a.m. New York time at +1-800-706-7745 or 617-614-3472. The passcode is 96930241.)