While commodity prices keep soaring, some of the fertilizer producers continue to harvest the profits. The ongoing demand for grains, whether for food or alternative fuels, is expected to remain strong. Fertilizer producers are benefiting from the increased usage of specialty chemicals by farmers in industrialized nations seeking to maximize their crops. Emerging markets are adding upward pressure on the price of agricultural commodities, as their booming middle class change their food diet. Consider rough rice, for example, prices are up 138 percent in the past year. The global demand for fertilizers was once again confirmed by last week’s news that Potash and two other companies had agreed to sell their products to Sinofert Holdings –a major Chinese importer- at $576 a ton, or a more than triple premium over 2007 price levels.
The need for alternative fuels due to record-high prices for energy commodities, especially crude oil, as well as global warming concerns have influenced the prices for agricultural commodities. The demand for corn-based ethanol is one of the main drivers for the price increase in corn, which has surged 60.36 percent in the past six months. According to the International Fertilizer Development Center, in 2007, the United States designated 18 to 20 percent of its corn crops to the production of ethanol (this figure is projected to be approximately 25 percent in 2008). Although the benefits derived from ethanol are still debated, the need for alternative bio-fuels remains a top priority.
Intrepid Potash , a significant player in producing the fertilizer potash, raised $960 million, or $3 above the projected pricing of $27 to $29 per share. Its shares jumped over 40% on the open this morning. Potash (or carbonate of potash) is an impure form of potassium carbonate. Potassium, Nitrogen and Phosphorous are the three most important ingredients for crop growth.
Here is a look at the past twelve-month performance for some of the companies involved in the production of Fertilizers:
Additional ETFs you may want to follow include Market Vectors Global Agribusiness which is up 12% YTD and PowerShares DB Agriculture which is up 15% YTD.