It's one thing to arrive at a party after the festivities are in full swing; it's another thing entirely to arrive just as guests start trickling out. The same can be said for stocks, where Fools do not want to be that guest who never knows when to go home.
I freely concede I missed a mammoth opportunity with the recent surge in agriculture stocks. More painfully still, I owned shares of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT ) a couple of years ago and sold for what I thought was a tidy 20% gain. Woe is me! After the recent sell-off in agriculture stocks, though, the time feels right to at least take another look.
Potash Corp. today is trading at around 8% below its record high of $241, while fellow fertilizer giant Agrium (NYSE: AGU ) is off by around 11%. Given the speed of their respective price appreciations, I agree with my colleague that such names remain a little "frothy". What about Sociedad Quimica y Minera (NYSE: SQM ) ? This Chilean fertilizer producer only really started seeing accelerated share growth in 2008, and yet has fallen 27% from its June high to trade around $42 today.
SQM is a major global producer of specialty plant nutrition for every stage of the crop cycle, but also offers diversification from pure agriculture exposure by producing lithium and iodine. SQM is a serious player in lithium production, supplying the very busy steel and aluminum industries. Lithium is also a key element in the batteries used in hybrid cars like the Toyota (NYSE: TM ) Prius. SQM also boasts the largest iodine production capacity in the world. Iodine is used in medical applications, LCD displays, etc. While competitor FMC Corp. (NYSE: FMC ) also offers both fertilizers and lithium products, SQM is the only player I've seen with this particular trio of business segments.
With net earnings in the first quarter of 2008 that bested the previous year's quarter by 50%, SQM looks intriguing to me at this stage. Every Fool has their own inner comfort level when it comes to investing in stocks with major momentum. While Potash Corp. and Agrium may very well reach new highs again soon, the more precipitous decline in shares of Sociedad Quimica y Minera, combined with the unusual trifecta of products offered, makes SQM a standout in this Fool's eyes.