Mosaic, Koch and Agrium fertilizer news

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Koch recently increased its share of Intrepid Potash Inc. with what appears to be some confidence in fertilizer pricing and income for both companies in coming months. Meanwhile, Mosaic Company and Agrium aren’t issuing very positive news projections through the end of the year, and contend 2014 will be a challenging year for fertilizer companies’ profits.

Koch’s businesses include Koch Fertilizer LLC and subsidiaries with fertilizer plants in the U.S., Canada, Trinidad and Tobago. Koch increased its share of Intrepid Potash to 5.2 million shares or 6.9 percent of the company’s outstanding shares, reports Reuters news service. Intrepid is based in Denver, Colo.

Mosaic had a cut in its third-quarter sales, and company officials have said they don’t see strong demand for crop nutrients during the remainder of 2013. The Belarusian Potash Co. breakup triggered price slides in fertilizer earlier this year, especially potash, and delayed U.S. crop harvest because of late spring planting, which has lowered fall applications.

Mosaic plans to operate its potash mines below 65 percent of capacity on average during the remainder of 2014. This includes a stoppage for maintenance at its Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, mine, according to Reuters.

Phosphate operations of Mosaic will operate at about 80 percent of capacity, a Mosaic source said.

Reuters noted that Mosaic has made a few major decisions to change operations. It will be selling its salt operation, close its small potash mine at Hersey, Mich., and end its company distribution in Argentina and Chile.

Uncertainty in fertilizer markets, combined with a late North America growing season caused many buyers to delay crop nutrient purchases, said Agrium Chief Executive Mike Wilson.

Outages at Agrium's Redwater, Alberta, and Carseland, Alberta, nitrogen facilities reduced product availability in the third quarter and will also affect fourth-quarter sales volumes, Wilson said.

Agrium noted that wholesale sales income from nitrogen, potash and phosphate decreased by 24 percent due to lower sales prices across all products and the plant outages during the third quarter, and projections for the fourth quarter don’t look much better.

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