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A potash powerhouse squashes a deal; fertilizers tumble

Tuesday, 30 Jul 2013 | 10:04 AM ET
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Fertilizer stocks are getting crushed.

The world's largest potash consortium is in jeopardy after Russian company Uralkali backed out of a venture with its partner in Belarus. Although it's hard to describe what this partnership was like, a rough comparison conjures images of the Oil and Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). A group of countries controls a good part of the world oil supply, and has a huge influence on prices.

So it was with the potash consortium: The top six producers control 80 percent of the world's supply, which includes Potash, Agrium and Mosaic. The top four producers belong to two "marketing organizations" that negotiate prices and contracts. Like OPEC, everyone has quotas, and some companies (apparently) cheat, which greatly annoys everyone else.

Fertilizer stocks take a hit
Shares of Potash, Agrium and Mosaic are tumbling in pre-market action after Russian company Uralkali pulls out of a venture with Potash, reports CNBC's Carl Quintanilla.

Someone said the Uralkali move was like Saudi Arabia leaving OPEC—which would cause prices to drop immediately. There are estimates global potash prices might drop 25 percent.

Either way, this is bad for the stocks, yet good for farmers. It is also good for India and China who buy this stuff by the ton, literally.

Elsewhere:

1) NYSE Euronext beat on top and bottom line, and CEO Duncan Niederauer said they expect to close the company's sale to Intercontinental Exchange this fall; the SEC will rule on the ICE deal by August 15th (they are expected to approve the merger).

2) Diesel engine maker Cummins beat and had positive comments: "revenue increased primarily due to higher demand in North America, helped by market share gains in the medium duty truck market."

3) Goodyear Tire beat on top and bottom line: "We anticipate volume growth in the second half of 2013 compared to last year, with a 3 percent to 5 percent increase in the third quarter driven by continued improvement in emerging markets and slow but steady recovery in mature markets." They expect 2013 operating profit at the higher end of their prior guidance.

4) In Europe, Barclays is down 7 percent; as expected, they unveiled a roughly $8.9 billion capital hike; they also released earnings short of expectations, as did Deutsche Bank.

5) There is a lot of talk about President Obama's speech on manufacturing...word is he will include comments on a grand bargain on corporate taxes that will include some kind of repatriation holiday for corporate profits overseas. Much better would be an overhaul of corporate taxes, since the United States has the highest corporate taxes in the developed world.

By CNBC's Bob Pisani

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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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