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Agrium profit rises on fertilizer demand, prices

Mike Wilson, Agrium CEO

TODD KOROL

Agrium Inc. reported a rise in quarterly profit on Wednesday as high grain prices fueled demand for its fertilizer and other farm products.

Agrium, the largest North American farm products retailer, said fourth-quarter net income rose to $158-million (U.S.), or $1 a share, from $30-million, or 19 cents a share, a year earlier.

The company, which is also one of North America's largest fertilizer producers, said earnings were $1.38 a share, excluding discontinued operations, stock-based compensation expenses and other one-time items.

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Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium said quarterly revenue rose more than 60 per cent to $2.35-billion, driven by higher sales in both its retail and wholesale businesses.

Analysts on average had forecast revenue of $1.88-billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"Global crop prices and margins are expected to remain well above historic levels in 2011 as a result of very low global grain stocks, providing continued support for the entire crop input market," Chief Executive Officer Mike Wilson said in a statement.

Mr. Wilson said North American fertilizer inventory levels were tight and likely to remain so as the spring planting season approaches.

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