09 May 2012 20:09 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--A strong US market that drove significant demand for crop nutrients in the first quarter of 2012 is expected to boost North American consumption of nitrogen fertilizers by 1-3% this year, Canada-based fertilizer retailer Agrium said on Wednesday.
"Crop prices remain well above historical levels, providing a strong economic incentive for growers to optimise use of all crop inputs in order to maximise their yields and profitability,” said Agrium chief executive Mike Wilson in a conference call with investors.
A relatively mild winter that led to an early spring season resulted in a faster than normal start to the application season, Wilson said.
"The early season combined with higher corn and other crop acreage resulted in a surge in North American demand for nitrogen," Wilson said.
Earlier Wednesday, Agrium reported that first-quarter consolidated net earnings fell by 9% year on year to $155m (€119m).
Agrium sales in the quarter rose by 23% year on year to $3.63bn, while earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) from continuing operations were down by 5% to $246m.
Strong global demand for phosphate and potash fertilizers is expected to continue in 2012, Agrium said.
The Alberta-headquartered company said India has made small diammonium phosphate (DAP) purchases recently and larger purchases are expected to occur in the near future.
China's restrictions on phosphate fertilizer exports could increase DAP and other phosphate fertilizer exports from North America if global demand remains strong, Wilson said.
"Chinese potash imports in 2012 are expected to be flat to higher than 2011 levels, but this will depend on supply agreements in the second half of the year," Wilson said.
Agrium expects global potash shipments to be 52m-55m tonnes in 2012, down from about 55m tonnes in 2011.
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