DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Mosaic Co.'s (MOS) fiscal third-quarter profit slumped 50% as higher raw-material costs cut into the fertilizer producer's margins.
Shares fell 2% to $57 after hours on the weaker-than-expected earnings. The stock was down 25% over the past year through Wednesday's close.
The result faced a tough comparison against earnings a year earlier, when record demand, combined with supply uncertainties, helped lift up the fertilizer market.
Mosaic was split off from agribusiness giant Cargill Inc., which had owned a two-thirds stake in Mosaic last spring. Its earnings have mostly climbed over the past year as worldwide demand for fertilizer lifts sales, though economic uncertainty caused a profit slip in the second quarter, prompting the company to cut its expected phosphate production by 250,000 tons through March.
The company has still signaled optimism about its future growth prospects and last month said it would double its shareholder dividends for 2012.
"We are continuing to make significant strategic progress for long-term success even as we work through seasonal and cyclical market factors, and we feel very good about our business momentum," Chief Executive Jim Prokopanko said in a statement Wednesday.
For the quarter ended Feb. 29, Mosaic posted a profit of $273.3 million, or 64 cents a share, down from $542.1 million, or $1.21 a share, a year earlier. The latest quarter included about 8 cents a share in charges tied to negative currency effects and other items. Revenue slid 1.1% to $2.19 billion.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a 74-cent per-share profit on $2.13 billion in revenue.
Gross margin narrowed to 23.8% from 38.5%.
Phosphate sales grew 9.3% as the average selling price decreased 1.3%. Potash sales dropped 27%, while prices increased 26%.
Prokopanko said potash margins should remain compressed through the end of the current quarter but will likely benefit from increased production and lower spot prices on raw materials in the 2013 fiscal year.
-By Drew FitzGerald, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2909; Andrew.FitzGerald@dowjones.com