Nutrien to hike potash output amid sanctions against Belarus

DarcyMaulsby / iStock / Getty Images Plus potash-fertilizer-storage-GettyImages-494224104.jpg
Plans to increase 2021 potash production will help to eliminate concerns over supply.

By Marcy Nicholson

Nutrien Ltd., the world’s biggest fertilizer company, plans to increase its 2021 potash production by 500,000 metric tons in response to tighter global markets.

That will send the Canadian company’s 2021 potash sales to a record high, Nutrien said in a statement Monday.

The move will help to eliminate concerns over supply in the market after major western economies slapped sanctions against Belarus, a key producer of the fertilizer. Earlier Monday, Belarus was sanctioned by the U.S., United Kingdom, European Union and Canada. Fertilizer stocks in North America jumped during the day.

This marks the company’s second production-increase announcement within two weeks -- on June 7, it said it would increase this year’s potash output by 500,000 tons just days after rival Mosaic Co. was forced to cut its production.

“With continued strength in global agriculture and crop input markets, we are raising guidance and expanding our potash production by a total of 1 million tonnes to ensure farmer’s get the potash they need,” said Nutrien Chief Executive Officer Mayo Schmidt in a release.

The move to raise potash output again “is strategically smart” and will allow the company to “capture the most profitable tonne through the cycle” and “prevent prices from moving up too fast too soon,” Ben Isaacson, an analyst at Scotiabank, said in a note.

Nutrien shares rose as much as 2.6% to C$75.59 ($61.03) after the market opened Tuesday morning.

Sales volume guidance

Most of the additional production is expected to take place in the last quarter of 2021. The company raised its potash sales volume guidance to a record 13.3 million to 13.8 million tons for this year. Some of the additional tonnage is expected to be sold in early 2022.

Nutrien also raised its first-half 2021 earnings guidance due to strong global fertilizer markets and operational results to a range of $2.30 to $2.50, above its previous guidance of $2 to $2.20.

Full-year guidance will be updated when its second-quarter results are released in early August. Nutrien said it expects its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, and adjusted earnings-per-share guidance will be above the top end of ranges provided in its first-quarter results.

Potash prices have rallied this year as a global rebound for crop prices helped boost farmer spending on soil nutrients. A measure of spot potash in the U.S. Gulf shows prices at the highest since December 2012.

--With assistance from Elizabeth Elkin.
© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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