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Agrium Q1 Profit Declines - Quick Facts

Agrium Inc. (AGU, AGU.TO) posted first quarter net earnings attributable to equity holders of $153 million or $0.97 per share, down from $172 million or $1.09 per share a year ago.

Excluding items, net earnings would have been $210 million or $1.32 per share for the recent quarter.

On average, 21 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report earnings of $0.99 per share. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Sales grew to $3.63 billion from $2.95 billion in the prior-year quarter. Analysts estimated revenues of $2.98 billion.

"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 and EBITDA 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," added Wilson.

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

by RTT Staff Writer

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