PotashCorp reports 3rd-quarter earnings of $0.06 per share

Published 10:30 pm Sunday, October 29, 2017

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan – Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (PotashCorp) reported third-quarter earnings of $0.06 per share ($53 million) — including a non-cash impairment charge in phosphate of $0.03 per share — bringing the nine-month total to $0.48 per share ($403 million).

Results for the quarter were down from the $0.10 per share ($81 million) earned in the third quarter of 2016, while the nine-month total surpassed the $0.33 per share ($277 million) earned in the same period last year.

Gross margin was $230 million for the quarter and $753 million for the first nine months, exceeding 2016 levels of $190 million and $667 million, respectively, primarily due to higher potash contributions that more than offset weaker nitrogen and phosphate results.

Cash from operating activities prior to working capital changes of $290 million for the quarter and $935 million for the first nine months surpassed last year’s totals of $247 million and $908 million for the same periods.

Third-quarter phosphate gross margin of negative $45 million was below the $15 million earned during the same period last year, primarily due to weaker prices and a non-cash impairment charge of $29 million. Negative gross margin of $60 million for the first nine months trailed the $44 million generated in the same period of 2016 when prices for all our phosphate products were higher.

Sales volumes of 0.8 million tonnes for the quarter and 2.0 million tonnes for the first nine months were modest increases from the same periods last year (5 percent and 2 percent, respectively).

Our average realized price for the third quarter was $365 per tonne, below the $385 per tonne realized in the same period last year, largely due to lower prices for feed and industrial products.

Cost of goods sold of $420 per tonne for the quarter exceeded the $366 per tonne in the same period of 2016, mainly due to an impairment of property, plant and equipment at Aurora related to a feed product that we will no longer produce.

In nitrogen, we expect markets to remain volatile in the fourth quarter and anticipate full-year gross margin will be significantly weaker than in 2016. In phosphate, we expect challenging market fundamentals will continue to weigh on our realizations.

With these factors in mind, and taking into consideration the third-quarter phosphate impairment charge, we have lowered our combined nitrogen and phosphate gross margin range and now estimate $140-$190 million in 2017, trailing last year’s combined total.