UPDATE 1-Mosaic profit slips on weaker fertilizer prices
July 16 (Reuters) - U.S. fertilizer company Mosaic Co on Tuesday reported a lower quarterly profit as phosphate and potash prices slipped.
Delayed spring planting in the United States due to cool weather compressed the usual fertilizer application season for producers like Mosaic, Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, CF Industries Holdings Inc and Agrium Inc.
Mosaic has also faced uncertain export demand. Depreciation of the Indian rupee and lower subsidies by India's government make imported phosphate and potash fertilizer more expensive for manufacturers and farmers there.
Plymouth, Minnesota-based Mosaic is the world's largest producer of finished phosphate products and the second-largest rock phosphate producer. It is also a major potash miner in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
Net earnings for the fourth quarter ended on May 31 fell to $486 million, or $1.14 per share, from $507 million, or $1.19 per share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average expected a profit of $1.13 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net sales declined 4.5 percent to $2.69 billion, roughly in line with analysts' estimates.
Sales volumes hit the top end of Mosaic's forecast for the quarter, while prices fell within the company's range.
Mosaic, which is moving to a calendar fiscal year, expects strong demand for the second half of 2013, although a cautious approach by retail fertilizer distributors and a stronger U.S. dollar will affect prices, said Chief Executive Officer Jim Prokopanko.
For the current third calendar quarter, Mosaic said it expected to sell 1.8 million to 2.1 million tonnes of potash, compared with 1.8 million a year earlier and 2.6 million in the prior quarter. It estimates prices at $330 to $360 per tonne, versus an average of $368 last quarter.
The company forecast phosphate sales of 2.9 million to 3.3 million tonnes this quarter, compared with 2.9 million a year earlier and in the last quarter.
Mosaic expects realized prices of $430 to $465 a tonne. In the just-ended quarter, the average price for diammonium phosphate was $483.