Nutrien boosts outlook for potash sales as fertilizer surges

Allan potash mine in Saskatchewan. (Image courtesy of Nutrien)

Nutrien Ltd., the world’s largest fertilizer company, boosted its outlook for profit growth and cash flow, saying it plans to sell more potash as crop-nutrient prices soar.

The company is projecting earnings-per-share of $16.20 to $18.70 on an adjusted basis; the previous target was $10.20 to $11.80. Nutrien and other fertilizer companies have benefited from record prices as major exporter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions on Belarus threaten a massive portion of global fertilizer supply.

Mosaic Co., the world’s largest phosphate producer, reported first-quarter earnings that missed analyst estimates. Total potash production is expected to exceed recent historical levels for the remainder of 2022, the company said Monday in a statement.

Nutrien has said it will increase potash production to fill a worldwide deficit. Russia and Belarus account for about 40% of global potash output and exports, and sanctions and other restrictions imposed on the countries have “significantly constrained supply,” the company said Monday in a statement.

Nutrien has raised 2022 potash sales volume guidance to between 14.5 to 15.1 million tons, with the majority of the extra capacity to be produced in the second half of the year.

“We are estimating a wider than normal range of global potash shipments given the level of uncertainty of supply from Russia and Belarus,” according to the statement.

Nutrien has yet to name a permanent successor to former Chief Executive Officer Mayo Schmidt, who was fired just eight months after his April 2021 hiring to succeed Chuck Magro, who is now CEO of agribusiness giant Corteva Inc.

Nutrien paid Schmidt $9.4 million and another $4.8 million in severance, according to the company’s proxy circular. Magro received $18.5 million, in addition to $8.1 million in severance, according to company documents.

Corteva paid Nutrien a lump sump of $18.7 million for allowing Magro to breach restrictive covenants and work for a rival.

“While we have gone through two CEO changes this past year, the decisions made were both necessary and in the best long-term interests of the company and its shareholders,” the company said in a proxy circular to shareholders in April. The board intends to announce a permanent CEO during the second half of 2022.

(By Jen Skerritt)

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