CALGARY, Alberta -- Agrium Inc. announced today a net loss of $7 million ($0.04 diluted loss per share) for the first quarter of 2010, compared with a net loss of $60 million ($0.38 diluted loss per share) in the first quarter of 2009.

The 2010 first quarter results included pre-tax losses of $68-million ($0.30 diluted loss per share) on gas and other hedge positions and a $33-million pre-tax expense ($0.15 diluted loss per share) for stock-based compensation. Excluding these two items, our net earnings were $64-million ($0.41 diluted earnings per share) for the first quarter of 2010.

"A significant rebound in North American and international nutrient demand supported strong results for our Wholesale business. Activity in our Retail operations focused on positioning us to benefit from a very strong spring season for crop inputs. An unusually cold and wet March held U.S. growers back from fieldwork in the first quarter; however, the weather in April has been excellent and growers responded quickly by applying significant levels of crop inputs and making rapid progress in seeding the 2010 crop," said Agrium President & CEO Mike Wilson.

"The fundamentals for agriculture and the nutrient markets continue to be robust. This year's significant increase in acreage devoted to input intensive crops such as corn and cotton will benefit all three of our business units. Furthermore, we believe industry fundamentals will remain strong in both the short and medium-term," Wilson said..

Agrium is providing guidance for the second quarter of 2010 of $2.50 to $3.00 diluted earnings per share.

SOURCE: Agrium.