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Mosaic (NYSE:MOS)
Q4 2017 Earnings Conference Call
Feb. 20, 2018 9:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to The Mosaic Company's Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year 2017 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants have been placed in a listen-only mode. After the company completes their prepared remarks the lines will be open to take your questions. Your host for today's call is Laura Gagnon, vice president, investor relations, of The Mosaic Company.

Ms. Gagnon, you may begin.

Laura Gagnon -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Thank you, and welcome to our fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 earnings call. Presenting today will be Joc O'Rourke, president and chief executive officer. We also have other members of the senior leadership team available to answer your questions after our prepared remarks. The presentation slides we are using during the call are available on our website at mossaicco.com.

We will be making forward-looking statements during this conference call. The statements include, but are not limited to, statements about future financial and operating results. They are based on management's beliefs and expectations as of today's date and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from projected results.

Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are included in our press release issued yesterday and in our reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We will also be presenting certain non-GAAP financial measures. Our fourth-quarter press release and performance data attached as exhibits to the Form 8-K filings also contain important information on these non-GAAP measures. Now I'd like to turn the call over to Joc.

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning. Thank you for joining our fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 earnings call. We are going to keep our prepared remarks at a high level today and allow plenty of time for your questions. Before we get into the results, I would like to take this time to welcome Tony Brausen, interim CFO, to his new role.

He has been helping me prepare for every earnings since I became CEO and is a valuable member of our leadership team. Now let's move on to earnings. Although we reported a GAAP net loss of $431 million, it does not reflect the strength of the underlying business. Reported results include a $458 million noncash charge related to the new U.S.

tax legislation. Going forward, we expect the new legislation to provide cash benefits in excess of $200 million over the next five years. EBITDA in the quarter was $271 million, up 36% from a year ago. Mosaic finished the year with a strong quarter and significant momentum, driven by important strategic decisions, strong operating performance, and improving market conditions as we head into 2018.

We would like you to take away three key messages today: First, we continue to expand our record of successful strategic actions to deliver shareholder value across the cycle; second, with the acquisition in Brazil now complete, we are highly focused on achieving the savings targets and business transformation we outlined in our last call; and third, business conditions improved markedly in 2017, and we expect momentum to continue this year For the quarter, Mosaic reported a loss of $1.23 per share. Excluding tax-related charges and other notable items, adjusted earnings were $0.34 per share on sales of $2.1 billion. For the year, the company reported a loss of $0.31 per share, with adjusted earnings, net of notable items, at $1.09 per share on sales of $7.4 billion. Our solid financial performance was driven by improving market conditions but also by our cost-reduction initiatives.

Last year, we made important decisions to transform our business, and those decisions are generating meaningful benefits. I'll review these quickly. We idled our Plant City phosphates facility in Florida, demonstrating our commitment to optimizing production from our lowest-cost facilities and removing 1.4 million tons of annual finished product from global supply. Phosphate prices rose in response, and our fourth-quarter gross margin rate in the business unit expanded to $53 per ton from $34 a ton a year ago.

In addition, the phosphates business also embarked on a major transformation effort that is expected to lead to reduced costs, improved processes, and further margin expansion. In the potash business, where the transformation is further along, costs remained near historic lows while we produced at high rates to meet record global demand. And we reduced our capital spending without compromising the safety of our people or the integrity of our assets. Taken together, these costs and capital-related decisions provided significant cash flow benefits and strengthened our ability to prosper.

At the same time, we put capital to work to generate future returns. We also made good progress on our major strategic initiatives. Our Esterhazy K3 complex is nearing completion, and we have produced the first meaningful tons of potash from the new facility. We expect Esterhazy to be among the lowest-cost potash mines in the world, as over time K3 will allow us to eliminate brine management expenses.

Our joint venture with Ma'aden, the Wa'ad Al Shamal phosphate complex, is ramping up production, providing us access to low-cost production and advantaged access to India and other Asian markets. And of course, we completed our largest acquisition ever, and we did so on terms that were renegotiated to benefit Mosaic by several hundred million dollars. The newly formed Mosaic Fertilizantes in Brazil and Paraguay makes Mosaic an Americas powerhouse, with advantaged access to customers in key agricultural regions. Our team in Brazil is off and running, working to transform the business and deliver the $275 million in total synergies we revealed last quarter.

We expect to achieve at least $100 million of those synergies in this year alone, and that is after any costs to achieve them. In fact, we plan to exit the first quarter having already achieved $40 million of run-rate synergies, and we will be booking a charge associated with the cost to achieve those in this quarter. Overall, we have made a great deal of progress in 2017, and we are not stopping there. We will continue to drive for efficiency improvements while maximizing the value of our asset portfolio all around the world.

We have also continued to focus on our financial priorities, which begins with maintaining a strong financial foundation. In the fourth quarter of 2017, we issued $1.25 billion of debt to finance the cash portion of the Vale Fertilizantes acquisition. With our stronger business performance in 2017, the $411 million in cash from operations we generated during the quarter, and our improved outlook for 2018, we are already making progress toward our targeted leverage ratio of approximately 2 times to 2.5 times net debt to EBITDA. Under the renegotiated terms of the acquisition, we transferred just over $1 billion of cash and were also able to pay down $200 million of our outstanding term loan.

During 2018, we expect to use our cash to pay down a total of at least $350 million, which is halfway to our original debt retirement goal of $700 million by the end of 2020. The overall message here is that we are on solid financial footing, and we are well on our way to making Mosaic efficient and highly competitive on a global scale regardless of the business conditions. Before I conclude, I want to provide a brief update on market conditions. Potash and phosphate prices have been low for several years, in large part because of expectations of significant new capacity.

Now as those new tons begin to come to market, prices have moved upward due to two primary forces. First, global potash and phosphate demand has continued to grow, and our market-analysis team now expects another record year for global shipments of both products. Demand has been resilient due to positive agronomic and economic factors. The second factor driving fertilizer prices higher is that new capacity has delivered fewer tons than expected, and those tons that are coming to market are being offset by higher-cost production that has been idled or permanently shut.

Market fundamentals look quite strong for the first half of the year. And with the many actions we've taken to solidify the business, we believe our performance will continue to strengthen in 2018. We have simplified our guidance to better align with our new segments. And for the first time, we are providing annual earnings-per-share guidance.

We expect annual adjusted earnings per share in the range of $1 to $1.50. The wide range at this early stage in the year reflects the inherent uncertainty in the timing and magnitude of changes in market prices for our products, which provides both opportunity and risk to our forecast. Our two primary areas of focus are: first, ensuring that we continue to operate efficiently, and second, capturing Mosaic Fertilizantes' synergies. We are also watching Brazilian real and the Canadian dollar exchange rates given the impact they have on our profitability.

Our industry and our company have endured an enormous amount of change over the past several years. At Mosaic, we took advantage of market conditions as they changed, and we have made and are continuing to make structural improvements to strengthen the company for the long term. One area, though, that will not change: we will continue to operate responsively, with integrity and the highest degree of ethics. And we will maintain our commitment to our many constituents, our customers, who serve growers' needs, shareholders, employees, our communities, nongovernment organizations, and the governments, because the sustainability and prosperity of this enterprise is important to all those constituent groups.

I make this point because it is easy to lose sight of the big picture in challenging times. We have a vision that transcends day-to-day changes in the market, and we fully intend to bring that vision to fruition. Now we will take your questions. Operator?

Operator

As a reminder, to ask a question press *-1 on your telephone keypad. Your first question comes from Vincent Andrews with Morgan Stanley.

Vincent Andrews -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Thank you and good morning, everyone. Just wondering if you could give a little bit more detail on your expectations this year as it relates to the Fertilizantes assets. And I guess just in terms of what production levels you're anticipating from a wholesale perspective, and as I look at the gross profit per ton that you've guided to, what that incorporates for synergies. And maybe you could just help us understand, and I know we don't have the fourth-quarter results yet in the pro formas, but what you think that the base is of 2017 when you strip out some of the other sort of non-GAAP or one-off issues that the company had last year.

I mean, just how would we -- how should we be thinking about tracking that year over year? Thanks.

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, good morning, Vincent. Thanks for your question. So let me start by saying the expectations that we are guiding to are what we expect for the combined business of what is now Mosaic Fertilizantes, which is our distribution business, and our wholesale or B2B business, as we're calling it. And I'm going to let Rick talk a little bit about volume expectations and whatnot, but let me start by saying we are very excited about where this business can go.

Rick and I were there last -- two weeks ago touring the sites, and we just see so much opportunity there that we're pretty darn excited. And as we look at the places where we see those opportunities to add value, we believe we can drive real efficiencies across the mining, processing, and support-function areas, the normal kind of synergy areas. The one we don't talk much about or you don't hear too much about, though, is we see huge opportunities in our go-to-market strategy as well and what we can do there. And I'll give you a couple of examples here.

And we're also making, I think, really good progress toward the $275 million. And including in that is we expect $100 million of net benefits this year. So that's net of the -- any cost to achieve them. And we'll be -- as I mentioned in my earlier remarks, we'll be actually having an allowance for that in the first quarter.

But let me just give you a couple of good examples of where we're going with that. First of all, we see a $24 million achievement already basically booked for this first quarter on labor. We're going to have about a $9.4 million benefit on equipment reduction and equipment optimization. In the gypsum area, rethinking of our gypsum strategy will net us approximately $3 million to $3.5 million per year.

And one that you -- won't come in our synergies, our rethinking of our strategy around pricing and marketing of feed will probably net us in the range of $20 million per year starting this year. So we've got a lot of things on the go, and we -- I'm very confident we're going to hit our $100 million this year and our $275 million in the next. Before I give it over to Rick, I just want to remind you of one other thing, which is, we renegotiated this deal at the end of last year, and part of that was due to the underlying underperformance of the business in previous years. So that allowed us an end to renegotiate.

And so the baseline is low, but we still expect very solid returns overall over time. So let me hand it over to Rick to just give you some ideas on production. Rick?

Richard McLellan -- Senior Vice President—Brazil

Yes. Thanks, Joc. Good morning, Vincent. From our perspective here, on the distribution side, we see our distribution business growing as the market grows.

So the expectation is 2% to 2.5% increase in the overall volume of tons here in Brazil. So we see us following that path. We're at a market share that we're very comfortable with on the distribution side. On the production side, I think a target for us this year is around 4 million tons of P and K production.

Last year, there were some really issues with production here on the Vale Fertilizantes side, and we're working to fix those. Joc, the only thing that I would add to your comments about the changes that we're making and things that are going on is we've done something here with all of our employees in engaging them to identify areas that we can save. And to be honest, there is some pent-up changes that are bubbling up that really give us a lot of confidence in both the 100 number for this year, the $100 million number, and $275 million for the future. Thanks, Joc.

Vincent Andrews -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Thanks, Joc.

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, I think that's a great point that Rick makes. And one of the things that I was struck with, like I say being there a couple of weeks ago, was we have been very clear with the employee base that big changes need to be made. But it seems certainly that they're very engaged and very on-board with making those changes. So it's going very well, I think.

Operator

Your next question is from Andrew Wong with RBC Capital Markets.

Andrew Wong -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

Hi, good morning. So regarding the synergies from Fertilizantes, is it fair to say that these are both synergies and cost savings? It sounds like these are assets that maybe haven't had the right attention or investments required, maybe were a little bit neglected, and you're bringing a fresh viewpoint to drive some of these cost savings and then also have synergies with your distribution business there.

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Andrew. Yes, absolutely. And I think as we clarified it last quarter, we see this as approximately $125 million of what I would call traditional synergies. Those are admin and whatnot.

But we just -- because we're combining the two, we'll see a lower price probably for sulfur because of our buying power. And those are traditional synergies. Above and beyond that, we see about $150 million of what I would call operational disciplines and those real cost savings that we've implemented in our -- in both our potash and phosphates businesses to date. And so that's just bringing a whole new level of operational excellence to that business.

Operator

Your next question is from Michael Piken with Cleveland Research. Michael, your line is open.

Michael Piken -- Cleveland Research -- Analyst

Hello. Can you talk a little bit about your MicroEssentials business a little bit? And specifically with the MAP prices going higher, how your margins are trending there and what type of volume [Inaudible]?

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. I'm going to hand that to Corrine, but I will say that our MicroEssentials business continues to perform very well. The one caveat I will give you, though, depending on the MicroEssentials form, because we have about four of them, the margins may be slightly different depending on the product. But again, it continues to go well.

MAP prices are up, but MicroEssentials margins pretty much follow that. Corrine, do you want to say a few words?

Corrine Ricard -- Senior Vice President—Commercial

Sure, Joc. I think it's a good point that there are multiple different products that make up the MicroEssentials line of products. They have slightly different price differentials relative to MAP depending on the nutrients analysis, and they have slightly different margins. And so mix in any given quarter can have an impact on what that average differential is.

So we are seeing no change in the overall market pricing of these products relative to MAP as we've seen increased prices. And as we get into the peak of spring season, well, we have increasing prices throughout the season because of the optimistic outlook for the overall market.

Operator

Your next question is from Jonas Oxgaard with Bernstein.

Jonas Oxgaard -- Sanford C. Bernstein -- Analyst

Morning.

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

[Inaudible] Jonas.

Jonas Oxgaard -- Sanford C. Bernstein -- Analyst

I'm trying to figure out the inclusion of the international distribution business into the Vale Fertilizantes. And in the context of last -- the last four quarters, you had about $170 million of gross margin in this distribution business. But if I look in your pro forma, I get to about $170 million from the combined entity, and I'm just not sure if I'm misreading -- how to read the pro forma here. Or how should I think about the gross margin contribution from the stand-alone Fertilizantes business?

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

OK, Jonas, that's -- I'm going to have to hand that to Tony Brausen to talk about the basis of what we've presented here and what that means from an SG&A perspective and whatnot and depreciation. Tony, do you want to give a little bit of a rundown on that for us?

Tony Brausen -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

You bet. Good morning, Jonas. There are a number of adjustments in the pro forma information for Mosaic Fertilizantes that may be skewing your assessment. And those include the fact that we have adjusted for IFRS to U.S.

GAAP. We've adjusted for our accounting policy alignment. And most importantly, we've adjusted for our fixed asset values that we are expecting to record those assets at. So from a purchase price accounting standpoint, we have to record them at a fair value, and we have to depreciate them based on the expected remaining useful life.

So at this point in time, this pro forma information is preliminary because that information was done at a very high level and has not yet been finalized. We've also made adjustments to the SG&A allocation in the segments, so we're now allocating a portion of our corporate SG&A to the Mosaic Fertilizantes segment. And then another big change from what was previously international distribution is we've removed India and China from that segment, and that's now reported in "corporate and other." So what you see in the Mosaic Fertilizantes segment is just our Brazilian businesses, the combined distribution business, along with the new business from Vale Fertilizantes. And then lastly, as it relates to that pro forma information, another big factor is in the phosphates segment.

And we're now including Miski Mayo as a fully consolidated business. So previously, that was an equity -- earnings in equity investments. So it was reported just on one line in the income statement, and now that's captured with sales, cost of goods sold, and margin in the phosphates segment. And that also has along with it depreciation.

So that impacts the gross margin you'll see reported in the phosphates segment.

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So just summarizing that, I know there's a fair bit of moving pieces in this, and we'll improve our disclosure on the business as we get more metrics and whatnot so that you can really follow it. But just let me reemphasize this business did underperform in '17. We expect that that will improve, but it's going to take a little bit of time. And most of what we're accomplishing in '18 is going to be the movement of prices up and our own efforts to improve the business through the $100 million of value capture.

So that's probably the easiest way to put it. And certainly, over the long term, we're still very confident that we're going to reach the numbers we talked about.

Tony Brausen -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

And Joc, just one other factor I'll add in, and that's the exchange rate for the Brazil real, which is going to have a significant influence on the results of that segment as well. And as you can see in the materials provided with this call, that's about a $0.07 per share impact for every 0.1 movement in the Brazilian real. So that's a meaningful factor as well.

Operator

Your next question is from John Roberts with UBS.

John Roberts -- UBS -- Analyst

For the new Mosaic Fertilizantes segment, the volume guidance seems to imply much higher growth for the year than for the first quarter, even when you adjust for the lost week in January, I think. Could you maybe discuss the seasonality to the volumes in that segment?

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Thanks, John. I'm going to hand this to Rick in a couple of seconds. But obviously, your first point is very relevant, which we did not close at the start of the quarter, so there will be less than a full quarter in the first-quarter volume.

But also, the first quarter is traditionally a pretty quiet quarter in Brazil. So I'm going to let Rick talk a little bit more about the actual seasonality, but certainly that's -- your observation is correct.

Richard McLellan -- Senior Vice President—Brazil

Yes, Joc. And John, Joc's right that Q1 is traditionally a seasonally slow quarter. There is one item that impacted this, and it's based on product we had sold in the distribution side for delivery in Q1. Because farmers were getting ready to plant corn on some of their earliest harvested soybeans, they anticipated deliveries.

So we had 175,000 tons end up in last year that's impacting volumes in the first quarter of this year. We see that coming back to us during the year. As I said, we'll grow with the market. And that's what's making Q1 look a little smaller than it has been in the past.

It -- but from our perspective, we feel real good about the quarters to come, and the biggest quarter will be the third quarter.

Operator

Your next question is from Steve Byrne with Bank of America.

Steve Byrne -- Bank of America -- Analyst

So roughly, out of this 10-million-ton volume that you're forecasting for the Fertilizantes segment, is it -- can you split that between what is sort of the legacy distribution business with your -- the lower margin versus the margins in the $50-a-ton range that you have in your phosphates and potash businesses? And do you see that portion that is kind of legacy Fertilizantes' phosphate production -- could it reach the $50-a-ton range that you're forecasting for your legacy Mosaic operations? Or how long do you think it would take to get there?

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Steve. Let me answer that fairly high level. I -- first of all, as Rick mentioned earlier, we're expecting about 4 million tons from what you call the legacy Fertilizantes business. And then there would be about 6 million tons, which is traditionally what we've shipped out of our existing distribution business.

The margin will be basically in three pieces. You're going to have -- your lowest margin will be in what I would call the bulk commodity distribution. Our premium product margin is pretty good in terms of -- even in distribution, we get a pretty good margin in that. And then the rest of the margin will be made up with the Fertilizantes aspect or the B2B business.

The B2B business will have pretty reasonable margins at this point, and I think the highest, though, will be MicroEssentials, followed by B2B, and then bottom will be our bulk commodities. So that's kind of the split of how it works. And that adds up to as was put in the pro forma, and it really shows the split there, I think, quite clearly.

Operator

Your next question is from Don Carson with Susquehanna.

Don Carson -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

Thank you. A question -- follow-up on Vale. You've said in the past that excluding your cost savings, you think that through-the-cycle EBITDA can average $300 million. Where were we in 2017? And how do you see that given your strong phosphate market outlook for 2018? And then just to follow up on your -- Joc, on your market outlook, where we saw a big pickup in demand, particularly in potash, in calendar 2017.

Now what gives you confidence that these were actually pounds in the ground as opposed to kind of channel inventory accumulation that could steal from forward demand?

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

OK, I'm -- Don, thank you for the question. Let me start by saying I think the pro formas aren't finished for fourth quarter, as you're well aware. But if we look at that, the EBITDA contribution from Vale Fertilizantes, I think, in the first three quarters was pretty low because of low prices and the performance. So as we look at 2017, most of the contribution, if we combine them in the pro forma, actually comes from our own distribution business.

The second piece of your question, the inventory situation and where we see potash, well, I'm going to give Mike a handover here in a second, but let me answer your question on a high level, which is I do believe this is actually going to the ground. We have not seen around the world a big buildup of inventory. Mike?

Mike Rahm -- Vice President, Market and Economic Analysis 

Yes, thanks, Joc, and good morning, Don. Yes, we've taken up our 2017 estimate of global shipments pretty significantly as a result of recently released statistics, or 65 million tons of MOP shipments in 2017. That's a nearly 7% increase. We think that has gone on the ground in most geographies.

If you look at ANDA statistics from Brazil, they're showing that on December 31, stocks were down 8%. They're holding 1.5 months' worth of inventory relative to production. We know that in India, the pipeline is very low. Same thing in China with the situation in urea.

There's been a big increase, NPK production, the draw-down of potash inventories at NPK plants. The one number that does jump out, I think, in North America, we had a very strong fall season. We had a very good response to winter fill following the $20 price increase announcement. So there, I think we've pulled some demand forward.

But generally, we think that channel inventories around the world are in pretty good shape and that for 2018, we're forecasting about a 2% and 2.6% increase, or about a 1.7 million metric ton increase in shipments again.

Operator

Your next question is from Adam Samuelson with Goldman Sachs.

Adam Samuelson -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Yes. Thanks. Good morning, everyone. I was hoping you could provide a little bit more color on the $1 to $1.50 earnings per share guide for 2018 and some of the underlying assumptions that kind of band to the high and low end of that range in the potash, phosphates, and the Fertilizantes businesses.

I know you've given a volume range, but any kind of calibration on kind of the pricing at the high and low end, the margin assumptions that kind of would lead us to one and/or the other would be very helpful.

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Adam. Let me hand most of that over to Tony. I think he probably has the best handle on what goes into that guidance. Tony, do you want to just take that?

Tony Brausen -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

You bet. We are not planning to give full-year guidance at the margin or pricing level. And as you may recall, we didn't give that in the past, either. What we are attempting to do by providing full-year guidance, in addition to the sales-volume guidance, is to just keep the strategic -- to shift the focus to the more strategic and the long-term discussion.

But with that having been said, let me give you a little bit of the detail and the assumptions that have gone into that guidance. So starting with the diluted share count, now it's higher than it used to be because of the shares issued with the Vale Fertilizantes acquisition. So now that's about 386 million. You've seen in the conversation this morning that we're expecting the effective tax rate to be in the low 20s for 2018.

Interest expense, of course, you'd expect that to be up year over year because we issued the debt late last year tied to the Vale Fertilizantes acquisition. So we expect that interest expense to be up but still under a $200 million level. The other operating expense number, I'm recalling that what you often see in "other operating expense" are the notable items that we report and the $1 to $1.50 is exclusive of any notable items. So you'd expect that other operating expense line in your model to be about what you typically see with no unusual items.

And so that would probably be in about the $40 million range. We've given SG&A guidance at $325 million to $350 million. And of course, we've given a range-of-ton guidance as well. So hopefully, that gives you some of the information you're looking for.

And with all of that information, I think you'll be able to assess a range of gross margins from your perspective.

Operator

Your next question is from Jeff Zekauskas with J.P.Morgan.

Jeff Zekausaka -- J.P.Morgan -- Analyst

Thanks very much. As far as your Plant City phosphate production, do you plan to bring that up later in 2017 -- or 2018 or in 2019? And if you don't bring it back up at all, do you have to write it down? And if you wrote it down, what would be the magnitude of the writedown?

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

OK thanks, Jeff. Well, let me say we shut down Plant City -- or we -- sorry, we idled Plant City on the basis that we would assess the impact it had on softening the blow, let's say, of new production coming online. Since we idled the plant, we have seen an increased margin of -- stripping margins, market stripping margins, of about $40 per ton. At least part of this is directly attributable to our own actions here.

And so we will -- we expect to see a very improved conversion cost by focusing on our high -- our lower-cost plants, particularly if we can run these at higher rates over time. So what I would say is we will reassess Plant City in the next six to eight months and say, "Did it really have the impact we expected? Is there a market need that we really want to bring that back to satisfy? Or do we believe that the market will be able to meet the needs of our customers without that plant and us be able to focus on the lower-cost production?" So with that, I'm going to hand it over to Tony because Tony probably has a feel for the overall DD&A for that, that plant, or property and plant.

Tony Brausen -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

Yes. As I recall, the DD&A, I think, is in the $30 million neighborhood, perhaps $25 million, somewhere in that range, Jeff, and I don't have that fully committed to memory. And you asked also about an asset write-off if we were to permanently close. Yes, there certainly would be.

I don't have the net asset value of that operation committed to memory as well. But if that's important to you, we can get that. But I would tell you any write-off, if there were a permanent closure decision, would be fully noncash and would be reported as a notable item.

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Where there would be cash costs, let me highlight, though, is the closure costs, and the actual closure of that site would need to be paid. So the ARO would need to be expensed at that point.

Operator

Your next question is from P.J. Juvekar with Citi.

P.J. Juvekar -- Citi -- Analyst

Yes. Hi, good morning. So China, that exposure, went down in 2017. What's your outlook for 2018? And then last year, you had expected net MAP shutdowns in China, which did not materialize, at least in 2017.

Any chance that the situation could change this year? And could we see shutdowns in 2018? Thank you.

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, thanks, P.J. I'm going to hand this to Corrine and Mike to talk about a little bit. But let me start by saying there are some real factors in China that we talked about last year, and I think because of higher pricing, they maybe take -- took longer to occur. So -- and obviously, that's a risk or opportunity this year.

If the prices are higher, China's actions may be different. But here are some of the factors, I think, that are real relevant at this stage. They definitely are running into higher environmental compliance costs, which are driving costs higher. There's higher costs for some of their raw materials like ammonia, again mostly driven by environmental changes and the restrictions on the use of coal-fired ammonia plants or coal-gasification plants.

We have environmental shutdowns that are occurring because of environmental -- because of pollution issues. And so these are becoming real issues. And then the last one is the idea of stockpiling for domestic surety in the spring market. Those are all real factors that are going to affect China.

And -- but what I will say is our baseline assumptions for this year do not include a substantial change in Chinese exports. So what we're predicting today is basically flat Chinese exports. Now if that changes, that is all upside to our business case. Corrine?

Corrine Ricard -- Senior Vice President—Commercial

Yes, I think that's a good recap, Joc, of what we're seeing today. The only additional thing that I would add is that we know that the January export numbers are about half of what they were last year in January. Now January's a small number, but we look on track for the Q1 to start to see some reduction in those exports.

Mike Rahm -- Vice President, Market and Economic Analysis 

Yes. And what I would add, P.J., is I think you have to put that in the context of what's going on in the global phosphate market. I think as we mentioned on the last call, if you look at the increase in demand that we expect in 2018, which is about 1.2 million tons, look at the closure of Plant City, which takes another 1.7 million -- or 1.5 million tons out of the equation, that's a hole of about 2.7 million tons that has to be filled with incremental production coming from somewhere. And we know that the Ma'aden Al Shamal joint venture will ramp up.

We know it produced about 450,000 tons last year. If it produces somewhere in that 2-million-ton mark, there are some tons there. OCP is ramping up its third hub. It has announced that the fourth hub has been delayed.

And if you just assume that there will be 2 million to 2.5 million tons of incremental supply coming from those two sources, that basically implies that the market is balanced. So anything that happens in China with respect to a reduction in supply simply tightens the market further. And I guess I would go back to your early comment. Exports from China actually increased last year when you look at China customs statistics.

In 2016, exports were about 9.5 million tons and actually were 10.1 million tons last year according to customs statistics. And basically, I said the market needed those tons. And as Corrine points out, there are real changes taking place this year. And we will admit that we jumped the gun a bit last year and called it a little bit early, but the bottom line is we think there's a very good likelihood that exports do drop this year.

And if that happens, that's just fuel on the fire in terms of the S&D balance.

Operator

Your next question is from Christopher Parkinson with Crédit Suisse.

Christopher Parkinson -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Thank you. Your rock costs in 4Q were actually pretty solid there. Can you just comment on -- in your margin [Inaudible] drivers that resulted in the reduction in per-ton costs, your expectation on how this will trend in '18? And also, just any quick longer-term thoughts on rock procurement and production with Miski Mayo? Thank you.

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sorry, I missed the piece on Miski Mayo. I didn't quite catch your question, Chris. Could you just reask that?

Christopher Parkinson -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

The end of the question was simply just any longer-term thoughts on rock procurement and production in Miski Mayo, that's all.

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

OK. Thanks, Chris. Yes. So look, yes, we had pretty good rock costs in the fourth quarter, and I think those are actions that the phosphate team is doing to, A) increase volumes and drive the -- again, the low-cost operations.

And long term, we expect that to continue as we continue to drive our costs and really look at efficiency in all our mining. So I think that's a pretty good indication of what we can expect in -- certainly in the first half of this year coming up. In the year, we intend to look at our rock strategy very holistically. So in other words, we now have a completely different rock profile being the -- with the idling of Plant City, with the addition of the Miski Mayo tons from the Vale Fertilizantes acquisition, we have an opportunity to really relook and rethink how we're going to optimize that rock.

And I think by doing that, we will really be able to figure out what is the best option for us. And that's -- and so that really leads into your second question of what's going to happen with Miski Mayo. At this stage, our goal at Miski Mayo is to drive out costs and develop efficiencies, particularly now that we've consolidated that into our -- a two-person joint venture with ourselves and Mitsui. So we intend to really take a hard look at what we can do there.

In terms of increasing production for Miski Mayo, that will have to be assessed over time.

Operator

Your next question is from Ben Isaacson with Scotiabank.

Ben Isaacson -- Scotiabank -- Analyst

Oliver on for Ben. So what would your EPS guidance have looked like if you weren't pro forma? And then maybe, how are you thinking about Colonsay, the Brazilian mine, going forward? Do you expect to need those to hit your claims?

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

OK. First of all, I'm going to take your questions on accretion and dilution question on Vale. And, look, what we see this year is with the improvements we've made -- and I've gone through them in fair detail, so I'm not going to rehash that. But I think we're pretty much on track with where we thought we would be.

And I actually think that probably, the Vale this year will be -- and it's hard to get an exact number, but will be close to accretive this year or slightly accretive. But it's going to be in that range of -- fairly neutral on the 34 million extra shares.

Operator

Your next question --

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Oh, sorry, I missed getting your second question there, Oliver. Sorry. I was just making sure I had that question correct. So your question on our Brazil potash mine -- now, the Brazil potash mine is a very local issue, and so it really depends on how well it can deliver efficiently to a local market.

And at this stage, it appears to be quite competitive in that local market. So I would say it has a very good chance, with some improvements, that that could be a good contributor. In terms of your other costs -- or your other question, as we ramp up K3, we will continue to look at how do we serve our customers from the most efficient way possible. Now, so that's going to depend on volume requirements.

It's going to depend on pricing and everything else. But we can assure you that we continuously look at each of our assets and say, "Are they adding the real kind of value that we believe they should? And are we doing the best for our customers in terms of optimization?" And we'll continue that.

Operator

Your next question is from Mark Connelly with Stephens Inc.

Mark Connelly -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

Staying with K3 for a second. In your Investor Day, you presented us the ramp over the next couple of years. I'm curious, is your goal to ramp it back [Inaudible]? Or are there other reasons or other work you're doing that makes that ramp more measured than it could be if the market were actually there to produce more tons?

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Look, certainly -- let me, first of all, tell you the challenge, if you will, of developing a new mine. We get to the bottom of K3, which we did in February, and you have basically what amounts to a 6-meter or 20-foot hole. You have to develop out for that -- from that. That takes years, not months, to get that done.

At this stage, we're dropping in our first drum miners now to underground. So we're starting to ramp up the rate at which we can develop and build out that mine. But we are doing it at about as fast as we can. What will happen, though, is depending on the market, whether we do -- we focus more on development or whether we focus more on bringing out tons really depends a little bit on the market, and then, obviously, the trade-off being the ongoing cost of the K2 brine inflow.

But this is why new tons are not coming as fast to market.

Operator

Your final question is from Vincent Andrews with Morgan Stanley. And there is no response from Vincent

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

OK. With that, let me close off by a quick summary. We really finished the year with a strong quarter and significant momentum. This was driven not only by the market but important strategic decisions we made, strong operating performance.

And so as we head into 2018, it's hard not to be optimistic about where we're going. But just let me summarize. We continue to expand on our record of successful strategic actions to deliver real shareholder value across the cycle. With the acquisition in Brazil complete, we're now highly focused on achieving the savings targets and the business transformation we talked about in about line.

And finally, with business conditions improving from 2017, we expect this momentum to continue into this year. So with that, we're really excited about where this company is going in the next six to 12 months, and we hope you are as well. Thank you very much for your attention.

Operator

This concludes today's conference call. You may now disconnect.

Duration: 54 minutes

Call Participants:

Laura Gagnon -- Vice President, Investor Relations

James "Joc" O'Rourke -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Vincent Andrews -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Richard McLellan -- Senior Vice President—Brazil

Andrew Wong -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

Michael Piken --  Cleveland Research -- Analyst

Corrine Ricard -- Senior Vice President—Commercial

Jonas Oxgaard -- Sanford C. Bernstein -- Analyst

Tony Brausen -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

John Roberts -- UBS -- Analyst

Steve Byrne -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Don Carson -- Susquehanna -- Analyst

Mike Rahm -- Vice President, Market and Economic Analysis 

Adam Samuelson -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Jeff Zekausaka -- J.P.Morgan -- Analyst

P.J. Juvekar -- Citi -- Analyst

Christopher Parkinson -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Ben Isaacson -- Scotiabank -- Analyst

Mark Connelly -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

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