Mosaic Disappoints on Weak Third-Quarter Sales

Fertilizer producer Mosaic (NYSE: MOS  ) reported earnings before the market opened today and the results were less than impressive. Sales fell 27.8% to $1.91 billion and net income dropped 70.2% to $124.4 million.  

Potash sales volume was 1.38 million tonnes, which fell below the company's own guidance of 1.45 million to 1.65 million tonnes. The weakness was driven by a later than normal fall application season and buyers being more cautious than usual.

On the phosphate side, selling prices and volumes were $436/tonne and 2.7 million tonnes, respectively, which were in-line with expectations. With that said, sales were still down 18% from a year ago in the phosphate business.

Despite the near-term weakness, Mosaic is still bullish on both the potash and phosphate businesses, as indicated by its $1.4 billion buyout of CF Industries late last month, including escrow contributions. This will allow Mosaic to forgo building its own ammonia plant and is expected to add $0.30 per share in earnings next year.

This looks like a very weak quarter on the surface, but there are cyclical forces at work in the fertilizer market. Long term, I don't think this changes the investment thesis, but it's a bump in the road, no doubt.

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