A Cash Flood for CF Industries

After scoping out the sizzling results of Yara International, it's time we turn to another company whose forte is fertilizer.

CF Industries (NYSE: CF  ) sells both nitrogen and phosphate products. Both segments are displaying profound profitability as farmers clamor for fertilizer.

Overall, net revenue lifted 37% over the prior year's quarter. Operating earnings nearly tripled, and per-share earnings actually did. While those results benefited from the accounting effects of natural gas hedging, results were clearly rocking.

In the nitrogen business, an already tight market for products like urea was boosted by that major increase in Chinese export tariffs I mentioned in the Yara article. While volumes were off 5% on account of a delayed planting season, selling prices more than offset that damper, with ammonia prices up more than 30%. Urea screamed higher as well. Thanks, China.

Things didn't look too different over in the phosphate business. Volume was down there, too, but largely because of the timing of shipments to places like Brazil and India. Cost creep was also felt in sulfur, a major input. Even so, phosphate gross margin (sales net of selling costs) roughly doubled versus last year's second quarter. I told you the world is hooked on the phosphate rock, but unlike certain illicit sales activities, when CF, Mosaic (NYSE: MOS  ) , and Agrium (NYSE: AGU  ) hook you up, the first one's not free.

China may just be the gift that keeps on giving. In addition to those export duties, CF also pointed to the potential of post-earthquake disruption of Chinese phosphate mining. Just as with Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT  ) and a flood in Russia, shifts in the earth may shift even more dollars into the pockets of the phosphate pushers.

CF is rated four stars in Motley Fool CAPS. This one has burned many a naysayer, including yours truly. Think the company will wither, or continue to thrive? Share your Foolish opinion right here.

Fool contributor Toby Shute was briefly ranked among the top 50 CAPS players today. He is active under the moniker TMFSmashy, and doesn't have a position in any company mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a perennial disclosure policy.


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