Pardon me for lumping together a fairly diverse group of businesses, but across the agricultural sector, we're hearing largely similar stories. Farmers are cutting back on all sorts of outlays, which in turn is cutting into most agricultural companies' profits.
What seems to be supporting share prices in the group -- and the fertilizer stocks in particular -- is the hope for a return to a semblance of normalcy in 2010, plus a hearty amount of takeover speculation. With regards to the latter, we got yet another iteration of the "big global miner X wants/ought to swallow big potash player Y" meme, with a Bank of America analyst talking up a BHP Billiton buyout of PotashCorp. Personally, I'm getting kind of tired of this one.
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