Production snags, weaker prices and the strong dollar slashed Agrium Inc.'s third-quarter profit by nearly 99 per cent, Canada's second-largest fertilizer company said yesterday. Agrium earned $1-million (U.S.), or 1 cent a share during the quarter, down from $72-million or 54 cents a year earlier. "Our third-quarter result . . . was obviously below what we anticipated, and was largely due to a number of one-time incidents," CEO Mike Wilson told analysts on a conference call. Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates had expected earnings of 6 cents a share. Sales rose to $869-million from $859-million. But overall fertilizer margins were down 63 per cent at $30 per tonne, the company said. Agrium had production problems in potash, nitrogen and phosphate facilities, nipping sales volumes and boosting costs, Mr. Wilson said. AGU (TSX) rose 30 cents to $32.13.
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