The fertilizer industry is full of life now. I can't think of a single company that failed to impress us with its last-quarter numbers. Then doesn't the fertilizer space look like a safe haven for your money? I think so.
Let me give you the lowdown on what's driving the industry and how the major players are faring, to help you add some nutrients to your portfolio.
Farmers across the globe are growing more and more these days. What's fueling all the action? Rising crop prices. This in turn fuels demand for fertilizers and nutrients, making for busier times for fertilizer companies.
A lot of this can be attributed to the emerging markets, which are demanding more food with their growing population. This can be gauged from some recent developments such as India's agreement to import nutrients like potash at high prices. China and Latin America are also contributing to the rising demand for nutrients. What particularly stands out here is China's recent purchase of huge amounts of American corn.
Nothing corny about it
When we talk about fertilizers, corn requires special mention as it is one of those crops that require a lot of nutrients. A strong market for corn thus directly translates into higher need for fertilizers.
China's big corn purchase has raised optimism all around. Fertilizer giant CF Industries is projecting near-record corn crops next spring, which certainly hints at good days ahead.
But what to make of the USDA's recent report of high corn stockpiles? Well, if corn supply goes up and prices fall, wouldn't lower prices trigger demand for the essential corn and again push up its prices? It's a cycle that's possible, which should bode well for fertilizer companies.
Now that you have a good idea of what's keeping the fertilizer industry happy, let's see which companies could be worth the money.
Some great plays
How could I leave out the potash king Potash Corp
As the world's largest fertilizer producer, and the biggest owner of the three-member legal cartel that controls all potash exports out of Saskatchewan, this one's a must-watch.
Speaking of potash, Mosaic
Two interesting ones...
One interesting company is Sociedad Quimica y Minera (NYSE: SQM), which is also expanding its fertilizer capacity. Higher nutrient demand and prices boosted its third-quarter revenues by 25% to $574.7 million and net profit by 51% to $143.2 million.
The interesting part? You have the great lithium advantage attached with Sociedad. Go for it, Fools!
Even the new kid on the block, CVR Partners
Anti-Chinese? No more!
If you get a lump in your throat at the very mention of Chinese companies, think again. Some fertilizer players that have been beaten black-and-blue by the "anti-Chinese" short-sellers are actually great performers.
Take China Green Agriculture
Same goes for peer Yongye International
Both these companies are expanding their products' base and reach. Having a foothold in a nation where agriculture is emerging as one of the most important sectors is a boon for them.
The Foolish bottom line
After reading so much about the great days the fertilizer industry is seeing (and which are likely to continue), I definitely feel these companies are worth a watch.
I'll keep adding to your knowledge by following up with detailed analysis on each of these companies and more. To make sure you don't miss out any, just add these stocks to your free stock watchlist by clicking below.