Agrium posts smaller-than-expected loss for quarter

Reuters — Agrium, the world’s biggest farm retailer, reported a smaller-than-expected loss on Monday, helped by higher selling prices for potash.

The Calgary-based fertilizer and ag retail firm sold 636,000 tonnes of wholesale potash in the first quarter ended March 31 at an average of $208 per tonne, compared with 456,000 tonnes at $199 per tonne a year earlier.

Agrium’s retail sales fell 2.2 per cent to $2.24 billion. Wholesale sales of nitrogen, potash and phosphate were up four per cent at $675 million.

The company’s net loss attributable to shareholders was $11 million, or eight cents per share, compared with a profit of $2 million, or two cents per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, it lost seven cents per share, while analysts on average had expected a loss of eight cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Agrium, which is merging with Saskatoon-based PotashCorp, said revenue fell marginally to $2.72 billion, missing estimates of $2.77 billion.

Last week, PotashCorp reported a bigger-than-expected rise in its first-quarter profit.

Reporting for Reuters by Ahmed Farhatha in Bangalore and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg.

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