Potash Profit Beats Estimates After Exports Increase

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., the world’s largest fertilizer producer by market value, posted first-quarter profit and revenue that beat analysts’ estimates as exports of the crop nutrient rose.

Net income rose to $556 million, or 63 cents a share, from $491 million, or 56 cents, a year earlier, the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company said today in a statement. That surpassed the 60-cent average of 27 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue climbed to $2.1 billion from $1.75 billion, more than the $1.85 billion average of 19 estimates.

Potash Corp. is benefiting from a resumption this year of seaborne imports by China and India, among the world’s largest users of the commodity, after they delayed purchases in 2012.

“The Chinese and the Indians are the big story in terms of increased demand from Asia,” John Goldsmith, who helps manage about C$5.2 billion ($5.1 billion) of equities at Montrusco Bolton Investments Inc. in Toronto, said in a telephone interview before the release of the results. “That’s a good thing. There’s little or no strength in North American demand.”

The company is among the three dominant North American potash producers who collectively agreed at the end of December to sell 1 million metric tons to China, resolving a six-month standoff. North American potash exports almost tripled in March from a year earlier, according to data on Potash Corp.’s website.

Potash Corp. reaffirmed its full-year earnings forecast of $2.75 to $3.25. The latest prediction compares with a $2.94 average of 30 analysts’ estimates. The company forecast second-quarter profit of 70 cents to 85 cents a share, compared with the 88-cent average of 24 estimates.

Sales of potash, a nutrient that helps strengthen plant roots and improve resistance to drought, generated 58 percent of the company’s gross profit in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company also produces phosphate- and nitrogen-based fertilizers.

(Potash scheduled a conference call for 1 p.m. New York time, accessible at +1-877-881-1303.)

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