Agrium Reports Excellent First Quarter Results With Crop Input Market Strong

Agrium Inc., the No.1 retail operation on our CropLife 100 rankings, has announced consolidated net earnings of $155 million ($0.97 diluted earnings per share) for the first quarter of 2012, compared with the net earnings of $171 million reported in the first quarter of 2011 ($1.09 diluted earnings per share).

The 2012 first quarter results included a pre-tax loss of $13 million ($0.06 diluted earnings per share) on natural gas and other hedge positions and a pre-tax share-based payment expense of $64 million ($0.29 diluted earnings per share). Excluding these items, net earnings would have been $210 million ($1.32 diluted earnings per share) for the first quarter of 2012.

“The benefits of Agrium’s strong global position across the agricultural value chain were evident once again this quarter, as our retail business capitalized on one of the earliest starts to the North American spring season in history, achieving its highest ever sales for a first quarter. Agrium’s Wholesale results were the second highest on record for a first quarter, despite slow global demand for potash and phosphate this quarter,” said Mike Wilson, Agrium President and CEO.

“Crop prices remain well above historical levels, providing a strong economic incentive for growers to optimize use of all crop inputs in order to maximize their yields and profitability. Favorable weather has enabled growers to get a very early start on spring planting and applications and we have seen strong movement of nutrients and other crop inputs, as some of retail’s business was brought forward into the first quarter. Our Wholesale operations are expected to benefit in the second quarter from rising nitrogen and falling North American natural gas prices,” added Mr. Wilson.

Agrium is providing guidance for the first half of 2012 of $5.50 to $6.10 diluted earnings per share. This excludes hedging gains or losses and share-based payments expense in our first quarter actual results and estimated second quarter results.

  1. First quarter effective tax rate of 28% used for adjusted diluted earnings per share calculations.
  2. Earnings from continuing operations before finance costs, income taxes, depreciation and amortization. See disclosure under the heading “Non-IFRS Financial Measure” in the section “Management’s Discussion and Analysis”.
  3. See disclosure in the section “Outlook, Key Risks and Uncertainties” in our 2012 first quarter MD&A and additional assumptions in the section “Management’s Discussion and Analysis”.

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