What do you call a company whose bottom line goes up to dizzying heights and shocks the Street? Bomb? Rocket? I call it CF Industries (NYSE: CF ) .
The $11 billion fertilizer maker's third-quarter bottom line spiked almost seven times year on year, beating estimates by a gaping margin. Here's a roundup of what CF has been up to currently and what you can expect in the future.
Hats off to the numbers
CF must be thanking its lucky stars for being a nutrient player, for this business is bringing the biggest smiles for all industry players now.
Nutrient prices have shot through the roof. CF's UAN and ammonia price realization shot up 70% and 40%, respectively, while urea prices were 60% higher and phosphate was 40% up, all year on year.
Whew! What could then prevent CF's top line from growing a staggering 53% from the year-ago quarter to a record $1.4 billon? This isn't surprising, though, since CF's peers gave us a good idea of what high prices can do to top lines.
PotashCorp's (NYSE: POT ) third-quarter revenue surged 47% from the year-ago period to $2.3 billion, while CVR Partners' (NYSE: UAN ) top line grew an astounding 66.4% from the year-ago quarter to $77.2 million -- all thanks to surging nutrient prices. Even Terra Nitrogen (NYSE: TNH ) reported a solid 49.5% climb in its third-quarter revenues as nitrogen product prices exploded. Mosaic's (NYSE: MOS ) revenue also grew 41% in its last quarter.
Backed by such robust top-line growth, CF's net profits shot up to a mind-blowing $330.9 million from just $48.2 million a year ago. Awesome!
What is keeping CF busy?
CF is making serious efforts to remove bottlenecks in its ammonia plants that were acquired when the company took over Terra Industries last year. Once completed, this project could add around 100,000 tons of ammonia per year.
CF is also working on adding new capacity to upgrade ammonia to urea or UAN because of their high demand and prices. Note how similar this move is to what CVR Partners is doing.
Another extremely interesting move is CF's increasing focus in markets outside the United States. Its exports to regions like Brazil, Argentina, and Chile went up in the last quarter, and the company is keen on gaining traction in the emerging markets.
This again is a sensible move, given how even chemical giants such as DuPont are betting big on these fast-growing regions. PotashCorp's third-quarter sales also got the biggest boost from these markets.
What's CF doing with all its cash? Apart from project investments, it has raised its dividend and is also repurchasing shares. Great all-around deployment of cash, isn't it?
Happy days ahead
Flush from high prices, farmers are growing more, which translates into higher demand for nutrients. The party gets hotter when prices of corn, which requires a lot of nutrients, shoot up. With countries like China gobbling up corn, a tight market for it is likely to persist.
Other factors like India stepping in as a big purchaser of chemicals such as urea and potash also indicate the strong demand for these products.
CF expects near-record corn plantations next year and is very bullish on farming activity. Good days are here to stay!
The Foolish bottom line
I can't help but feel good about CF's outstanding performance. Its investment plans are impressive, too. I don't see a reason why you shouldn't get excited about this company.
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