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Michael Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Agrium. (TODD KOROL/TODD KOROL/REUTERS)
Michael Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Agrium. (TODD KOROL/TODD KOROL/REUTERS)

Eye on Equities

Agrium grows its annual dividend Add to ...

Agrium Inc.'s decision to more than double its annual dividend to $1 a share “demonstrates confidence in achieving its future growth objectives,” said Desjardins Securities analyst John Hughes. “Agrium remains our preferred play in the fertilizers group.”

Upside: Mr. Hughes, who maintains a “buy” rating on the fertilizer producer and retailer, has a one-year target of $106.30 a share.

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Many of Sprott Inc.'s funds won't generate performance fees this year because they are “well below their high water marks,” said M Partners analyst Adam Seanor. The acquisition of Flatiron Capital Management, with its market-neutral strategies, will complement Sprott's more volatile funds, he said.

Downside: Mr. Seanor downgraded his rating to a “hold” from a “buy,” but maintains his one-year target of $5.75 a share.

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North West Co., which operates mainly in remote northern communities, reported better-than-expected first-quarter revenue, but slightly lower earnings per share, said Versant Partners analyst Neil Linsdell. Shares of the food and general merchandise retailer will still get support from a recently increased dividend, he noted.

Downside: Mr. Linsdell cut his one-year target to $22.50 a share from $23, but maintains a “buy” rating.

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Aurizon Mines Ltd. has deferred developing its Hosco deposit at its Joanna project in Quebec pending further exploration. It's the right move given that a feasibility study indicated a “less-than-robust return on investment,” said Dundee Securities analyst Paul Burchell.

Downside: Mr. Burchell, who has a “buy” rating on the gold producer and explorer, cut his one-year target to $7.80 a share from $8.20.

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AGF Management Ltd.'s move to sell its trust unit to Laurentian Bank of Canada is a “welcome transaction” because mortgage lending does not fit with the investment management business, said CIBC World Markets analyst Paul Holden. AGF will need to redeploy its proceeds to replace its trust's stream of earnings, he added.

Downside: Mr. Holden, who is maintaining a “sector performer” rating, reduced his one-year target to $13.50 a share from $17.

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