Drought Boosts Potash and Fertilizer Expectations

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By now you know about the drought engulfing U.S. farmers throughout much of the United States. While Texas has been getting the rain it missed in all of 2011, the drought is full-on throughout much of the farming regions in America. You look at the earnings report from Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS) and there is only one outcome: higher fertilizer demand.

The need for phosphate and potash is only eclipsed by the need for rain. Mosaic’s chief says that there is a growing evidence of nutrient deficiencies in the soil throughout much of the farm belt. It is also seeing strong demand from Central and South America.

As far as the formal earnings report, the $1.25 earnings per share (EPS) compared to $1.45 a year ago (ex-items), but that beat the Thomson Reuters consensus of $1.16 per share. Revenues fell to $2.82 billion from $2.86 billion a year earlier, but that compared to the consensus of $2.53 billion.

To make matters more attractive for fertilizer producers, Mosaic raised its full 2013 guidance by calling for strong demand from farmers in North America and internationally. If you wonder how good the guidance is without being specific, how does the doubling of its dividend sound? This is still not quite 2%, but that doubling takes the payout to $0.25 per quarter.

Mosaic shares are up about 4% at $57.60 against a 52-week range of $44.43 to $74.31. Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, Inc. (NYSE: POT) is up 2.2% at $45.10; Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) is up 1.5% at $86.81; and Intrepid Potash, Inc. (NYSE: IPI) is up 1.1% at $23.90. The key agriculture ETF of Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (NYSEMKT: MOO) is up only 0.3% at $49.34 against a 52-week range of $39.86 to $56.22.

JON C. OGG

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