Here it is, Fools -- the first quarter for Mosaic (NYSE:MOS) since potash hit the reset button. The company's fiscal-first-quarter results were as bad as expected, with per-share earnings of $0.23 approximating 2006 levels.

Do you remember anyone talking excitedly about fertilizer stocks in 2006? Me neither. It wasn't until 2007 that the fireworks started for companies like Mosaic and PotashCorp (NYSE:POT).

Drilling down on the numbers, the company's phosphate segment actually improved sequentially, and average selling prices and volumes came in within guidance. Gross margins improved to 14%, and management expects a "modest improvement" in segment margins over the course of the fiscal year.

It's hard to get too excited about the stabilizing phosphate business when Mosaic's potash segment, in a dirt-poor quarter, still generated 37% gross margins. Such a diva, that potash -- always stealing the spotlight!

Underlining the stagnant nature of the global potash market, China was actually a net exporter of the fertilizer in July. The country is usually the top importer. No wonder PotashCorp cut its guidance yet again last month.

Based on China's current inventories, however, it's only a matter of months before the country will become active in the potash market. Given the poor harvest this year, combined with commodity price inflation risk spurred by an extremely loose monetary policy, I don't expect China to drive too hard a bargain when it returns to the table. China should be good for at least 4 million metric tons of imports next year.

Droughts in India and Latin America, while no fun for folks like agricultural products producer Cresud (NASDAQ:CRESY), should also support a return to more normal potash demand levels next year.

These phenomena appear well understood by investors, judging by the lack of selling pressure yesterday on Mosaic and other fertilizer shops like Agrium (NYSE:AGU) and CF Industries (NYSE:CF). Mosaic would certainly catch my interest if it were to sink below $40 per share, but for now, I don't see much of an investment opportunity among the potash players.

Motley Fool CAPS players rate Mosaic four stars, while Agrium sports a full five. Weigh in on either stock with your own outperform or underperform call.

Cresud is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. Travel the world of foreign stocks with our advisors as your guide, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Check out his CAPS profile or follow his articles using Twitter or RSS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.