UPDATE 1-Potash Corp profit drops on lack of China, India sales
* Posts earnings of $0.48 per share vs Wall Street view of $0.58
* Forecasts 2013 profit of $2.75-$3.25/share; Street view $3.18
Jan 31 (Reuters) - Potash Corp of Saskatchewan reported a bigger-than-expected 38 percent drop in quarterly profit on Thursday as key potash buyers China and India stayed out of the market, but the company forecast a modest rebound in earnings for 2013.
Net income for the fourth quarter fell to $421 million, or 48 cents per share, from $683 million, or 78 cents per share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average had expected Potash to earn 58 cents per share.
"Our fourth-quarter results were adversely affected by weaker performance in all three nutrients as global fertilizer markets paused in the absence of significant immediate needs and amid lack of direction, particularly in phosphate and potash," said Potash Corp Chief Executive Officer Bill Doyle.
The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company forecast a profit rebound in 2013, but its outlook for the first quarter fell short of expectations and Wall Street's estimate for the full year was near the high end of Potash's range.
Potash said it expected a first-quarter profit of 50 cents to 65 cents per share, compared with the analysts' average estimate of 68 cents.
For the full year, the company forecast a profit of $2.75 to $3.25 a share. That compares with a disappointing 2012, when Potash earned just $2.37, and the analysts' average 2013 view of $3.18.
A holdout on potash buying by Chinese and Indian importers weighed on the company during the last two quarters.
Canpotex Ltd, which makes off-shore potash sales on behalf of Potash Corp, Mosaic Co and Agrium Inc announced a six-month supply deal with a subsidiary of China's Sinofert Holdings Ltd on Dec. 31, at a larger-than-expected price discount and volume.
Indian potash importers remain on the sidelines.
Following Canpotex's China deal, Potash Corp said it was seeing increased demand from most major markets. The company forecast global potash shipments of 55 million to 57 million tonnes industrywide, well above 51 million tonnes in 2012.
But Potash Corp said it expected continued challenges from India because of weaker demand from farmers due to high prices caused by lower government subsidies and a softer currency.