"We delivered stronger earnings compared to last year’s first quarter on improved potash and phosphate contributions," said PotashCorp President and Chief Executive Officer Jochen Tilk. "We adjust our full-year guidance largely on higher Saskatchewan potash taxes and first-quarter performance that trailed our initial expectations. Looking ahead, we are encouraged by the strength in global potash demand and see momentum accelerating through the second quarter, especially in offshore markets"
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (PotashCorp) reported first-quarter earnings of $0.44 per share ($370 million), up from the $0.40 per share ($340 million) generated in 2014’s first quarter. Gross margin for the quarter of $667 million surpassed the $565 million total for the same period in 2014. Higher prices and lower per-tonne cost of goods sold in potash were the primary contributors, more than offsetting changes to Saskatchewan potash taxes and weaker nitrogen sales volumes.
Earnings before finance costs, income taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA)2 of $731 million exceeded the total for 2014’s first quarter of $707 million, while cash from operating activities of $521 million during the first quarter was similar to the same period last year.
Income from our offshore investments contributed $33 million to our first-quarter earnings, well below the $100 million for the same period in 2014. This year’s total was comprised of equity earnings from Arab Potash Company (APC) and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM), while 2014’s total included contributions from these two companies as well as a $69 million special dividend from Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL).
Following a period of especially robust potash markets, demand and pricing in spot markets eased slightly during the first quarter of 2015. While currency headwinds, weaker demand in Brazil and later settlements of annual Chinese contracts caused some caution among buyers, strong consumption needs kept demand at historically elevated levels. Potash exports from North American producers increased in the quarter as rail constraints that limited deliveries in last year’s first quarter largely abated. In the North American market, a slow start to the spring planting season and record offshore imports resulted in weaker domestic producer sales compared to last year’s first quarter.
In nitrogen, market fundamentals weakened during the quarter on reduced agricultural demand and increased supply, including record Chinese urea exports. Prices for most nitrogen products moved lower during the quarter, although supply challenges in key exporting regions kept ammonia prices in North America elevated relative to the same period last year.
In phosphate, the first quarter of 2015 saw supportive market fundamentals – especially for liquid fertilizers – on strong demand and North American supply outages. Prices for all phosphate products increased compared to the same period last year, although the solid fertilizer market weakened as the quarter progressed.
Higher realized prices and lower per-tonne costs increased our first-quarter potash gross margin to $428 million, surpassing the $300 million generated during the same period in 2014.
First-quarter sales volumes of 2.3 million tonnes were relatively flat with the same period in 2014. Shipments to offshore markets rose 17 percent as improved rail logistics enhanced the ability of Canpotex3 to meet customer demands. The majority of Canpotex’s shipments during the quarter were to Other Asian countries (47 percent) and Latin America (21 percent), while China and India accounted for 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively. North American sales volumes declined by 19 percent from 2014’s comparatively high total.
Our first-quarter average realized potash price of $284 per tonne was above the $250 per tonne for the same period last year as realized prices reflected the strong recovery throughout 2014 driven by record consumption.
Potash production reached 2.6 million tonnes during the quarter, exceeding the 2.4 million tonnes produced in 2014’s comparative period. Higher production, operational efficiencies and a favorable impact from a weakened Canadian dollar lowered our per-tonne costs by $18 per tonne (15 percent) compared to the same period last year
In nitrogen, gross margin of $181 million trailed the $239 million generated in the first quarter of 2014 on lower sales volumes and higher production costs. Our US operations generated $120 million of our quarterly total with Trinidad accounting for the remainder.
Sales volumes for the quarter of 1.3 million tonnes fell below the 1.6 million tonnes sold in 2014’s comparative period. Volumes for the quarter were affected by issues related to product availability caused by mechanical challenges at our Lima facility and curtailments in Trinidad related to natural gas supply. Additionally, a delayed start to the spring planting season in North America led to weaker fertilizer demand, which constrained sales, especially for urea and nitrogen solutions.
Our average realized price of $351 per tonne during the quarter exceeded the $344 per tonne in the same period last year due to stronger ammonia prices.
Per-tonne cost of goods sold for the first quarter increased 8 percent from 2014’s comparable period. The primary drivers were reduced production and higher losses on our hedging positions as the benefit from lower natural gas costs in the US was offset by a rise in our ammonia-linked gas prices in Trinidad.
In phosphate, our first-quarter gross margin of $58 million surpassed the $26 million earned during the same period in 2014 as a result of improved realizations and the absence of accelerated depreciation charges related to the closure of our Suwannee River chemical plant.
Sales volumes for the quarter of 0.7 million tonnes were down 16 percent from the same period last year. While we experienced production constraints in both periods, this year’s first-quarter also reflected the closure of Suwannee River capacity and a greater proportion of our phosphoric acid being directed to products with higher phosphate content.
Our first-quarter average realized price of $574 per tonne was well above the $484 per tonne in the same period of 2014. Improved market fundamentals and a greater proportion of sales volumes coming from higher-netback feed, industrial and liquid fertilizer products were the primary drivers.
Cost of goods sold of $487 per tonne for the quarter exceeded the $453 per tonne in the same period of 2014, largely due to lower sales volumes and increased input costs for sulfur.
A weaker Canadian dollar, stronger potash prices and changes to Saskatchewan’s potash taxation regulations announced in March raised provincial mining and other taxes for the first quarter to $95 million, well above the $54 million recorded in 2014. Despite higher company earnings, our income tax expense of $140 million was slightly below the same period last year when a $38 million non-deductible impairment charge on our investment in Sinofert Holdings Limited (Sinofert) was recognized.
Capital-related cash expenditures of $228 million during the quarter were relatively flat compared to the same period in 2014.
During the quarter, we entered into an agreement to acquire a 9.5 percent stake in Heringer, one of Brazil’s largest fertilizer distributors. Once finalized, this investment is expected to further enhance our ability to serve customers in Brazil and provide flexibility for our growing New Brunswick potash operation.
In March, we issued $500 million in 10-year notes at a rate of 3.00 percent during the quarter. The proceeds are expected to be used for general corporate purposes and to redeem $500 million of 3.75 percent notes that mature in September 2015.
We continue to see encouraging signs in potash. With positive consumption trends, buyers in all key markets remain engaged and opportunities are emerging for reliable suppliers who can quickly respond to customers’ needs.
With China’s annual potash contracts now in place and planting underway in the Northern Hemisphere, we expect global shipments to accelerate and market fundamentals to improve in the second quarter. Although volatile currency markets and risks to crop economics have the potential to disrupt demand expectations, we believe underlying consumption needs will support 2015 global potash shipments at the upper end of our previous guidance range of 58-60 million tonnes.
In North America, the need to replenish soil nutrients from last year’s record crop is expected to support strong potash demand at the farm level. Increased offshore imports are likely to keep domestic producer shipments – including those for PotashCorp – below robust 2014 levels through the balance of the year. Based on these factors – along with a potential decline in planted acres – we have lowered our 2015 shipment estimate for North America to 9.3-9.8 million tonnes.
In Latin America, a drawdown of distributor inventories through the first quarter is expected to support higher potash import requirements as the year progresses. We continue to see significant agronomic needs supporting total shipments to this market of 10.8-11.3 million tonnes, slightly below 2014’s record level.
In China, we expect encouraging consumption trends to continue, especially for bulk blends and compound fertilizers with higher potassium content. Recently signed potash contracts with most major suppliers – including Canpotex contracts with minimum shipment requirements above those of 2014 – are expected to support robust shipments through the balance of the year. As a result of higher-than-anticipated contracted tonnes we have raised our estimate for total Chinese demand to 14.0-14.5 million tonnes.
In India, we expect positive consumption trends for direct application and compound fertilizers to help bolster demand growth. While contract negotiations between Canpotex and its customers in India are ongoing, we believe the need for improved fertility will provide the necessary incentive to ensure potash settlements are completed in a timely manner. For 2015, we have increased the upper end of our estimate range for total shipments, which are now forecast at 4.5-5.0 million tonnes.
In Other Asian countries (outside of China and India), agronomic need is expected to support strong consumption through the balance of 2015. Higher distributor inventories to begin the year are likely to keep total potash import requirements below last year’s record level, with those for 2015 forecast in the range of 8.4-8.8 million tonnes.
We have maintained our annual estimate for potash gross margin of $1.5-$1.8 billion and sales volumes of 9.2-9.7 million tonnes. While global demand could push our sales volumes to the upper end of our guidance range, weaker pricing and a higher proportion of offshore sales tonnes are likely to result in lower average realizations compared to previous expectations. High operating rates, along with lower costs and a weaker Canadian dollar are expected to result in lower per-tonne operating costs relative to 2014. As a result of recent changes to potash taxes in Saskatchewan, we now forecast provincial mining and other taxes for 2015 to total 20-22 percent of potash gross margin.
In nitrogen, lower global energy costs and increased supply are anticipated to keep markets subdued relative to 2014. Our production run rate is expected to improve from first-quarter levels, but challenges experienced early in the year are likely to result in annual sales volumes slightly below 2014’s total.
In phosphate, we expect market conditions to support a stronger pricing environment relative to 2014. Although we anticipate improved production levels will reduce our per-tonne cost of goods sold through the balance of the year, first-quarter production challenges, the closure of our Suwannee River facility and a greater proportion of our sales volume being directed to higher phosphate content products are expected to keep sales volumes below 2014 levels and our initial expectations for 2015.
Given these considerations, we now forecast our combined nitrogen and phosphate gross margin will be in the range of $1.0-$1.2 billion in 2015.
We have lowered our estimate of income from offshore equity investments to a range of $180-$200 million due to a slightly more subdued potash price environment and reduced dividend expectations from ICL related to ongoing labor issues. Selling and administrative expenses are now forecast between $230 million and $245 million.
We have lowered our full-year 2015 earnings guidance to $1.75-$2.05 per share. For the second quarter, we forecast a range of $0.45-$0.55 per share.
Along with those noted above, other annual guidance numbers are outlined in the table below.
|Earnings per share||Annual: $1.75-$2.05; Q2: $0.45-$0.55|
|Potash sales volumes||9.2-9.7 million tonnes|
|Potash gross margin||$1.5-$1.8 billion|
|Nitrogen and phosphate gross margin||$1.0-$1.2 billion|
|Capital expenditures||~$1.2 billion|
|Effective tax rate||26-28 percent|
|Provincial mining and other taxes*||20-22 percent|
|Selling and administrative expenses||$230-$245 million|
|Finance costs||$200-$210 million|
|Income from offshore equity investments**||$180-$200 million|
|Foreign Exchange Rate||CDN$1.24 per US$|
|Annual EPS sensitivity to Foreign Exchange||US$ strengthens vs. CDN$ by $0.02 = +$0.01 EPS|
|* As a percentage of potash gross margin
** Includes income from dividends and share of equity earnings
On April 27, 2015 PotashCorp adopted further amendments to the company’s General By-Law which was previously amended on February 20, 2015. The sole purpose of the amendment was to delete Section 7.A(5) of the advance notice requirements for director nominations of the General By-Law.
The full text of the General By-Law (as amended) is available under PotashCorp’s profile at www.sedar.com, on the EDGAR section of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s website at www.sec.gov and on the company’s website. The by-law amendments were effective as of the date of their adoption. Shareholders of PotashCorp will be asked to ratify and confirm the collective amendments to the General By-Law at the next meeting of shareholders currently scheduled to be held on May 12, 2015, as required by the Canada Business Corporations Act.
|1.||All references to per-share amounts pertain to diluted net income per share.|
|2.||See reconciliation and description of non-IFRS measures in the attached section titled "Selected Non-IFRS Financial Measures and Reconciliations."|
|3.||Canpotex Limited (Canpotex), the offshore marketing company for Saskatchewan potash producers.|
PotashCorp is the world’s largest integrated fertilizer and related industrial and feed products company by capacity and plays an integral role in global food production. PotashCorp is the world’s largest producer, by capacity, of potash and one of the largest producers of nitrogen and phosphate. These three essential nutrients are required to help farmers grow healthier, more abundant crops. With the global population rising and diets improving in developing countries, these nutrients offer a responsible and practical solution to meeting the long-term demand for food. While agriculture is its primary market, the company also produces products for animal feed and industrial uses. Common shares of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange.
For further information please contact:
Vice President, Investor and Public Relations
Phone: (306) 933-8521
Fax: (306) 933-8844
Director, Public Relations and Communications
Phone: (306) 933-8849
Fax: (306) 933-8844
This release, including the documents incorporated by reference, contains “forward-looking statements" (within the meaning of the US Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995) or “forward-looking information”(within the meaning of appropriate Canadian securities legislation) that relate to future events or our future performance. These statements can be identified by expressions of belief, expectation or intention, as well as those statements that are not historical fact. These statements often contain words such as “should,” “could,” “expect,” “may,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “intend,” “estimates,” “plans” and similar expressions. These statements are based on certain factors and assumptions as set forth in this document, including with respect to: foreign exchange rates, expected growth, results of operations, performance, business prospects and opportunities and effective tax rates. While we consider these factors and assumptions to be reasonable based on information currently available, they may prove to be incorrect. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict. The results or events set forth in forward-looking statements may differ materially from actual results or events. Several factors could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those expressed in forward-looking statements including, but not limited to, the following: variations from our assumptions with respect to foreign exchange rates, expected growth, results of operations, performance, business prospects and opportunities, and effective tax rates; fluctuations in supply and demand in the fertilizer, sulfur, transportation and petrochemical markets; changes in competitive pressures, including pricing pressures; costs and availability of transportation and distribution for our raw materials and products, including railcars and ocean freight; risks and uncertainties related to operating and workforce changes made in response to our industry and the markets we serve; risks and uncertainties related to our international operations and assets; failure to prevent or respond to a major safety incident; adverse or uncertain economic conditions and changes in credit and financial markets; the results of sales contract negotiations within major markets; economic and political uncertainty around the world; risks associated with natural gas and other hedging activities; changes in capital markets; unexpected or adverse weather conditions; catastrophic events or malicious acts, including terrorism; changes in currency and exchange rates; imprecision in reserve estimates; adverse developments in new and pending legal proceedings or government investigations; our prospects to reinvest capital in strategic opportunities and acquisitions; our ownership of non-controlling equity interests in other companies; the impact of further technological innovation; increases in the price or reduced availability of the raw materials that we use; security risks related to our information technology systems; strikes or other forms of work stoppage or slowdowns; timing and impact of capital expenditures; rates of return on, and the risks associated with, our investments and capital expenditures; changes in, and the effects of, government policies and regulations; certain complications that may arise in our mining process, including water inflows; our ability to attract, retain, develop and engage skilled employees; risks related to reputational loss; earnings; and the decisions of taxing authorities, which could affect our effective tax rates. These risks and uncertainties are discussed in more detail under the headings “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Results and Operations and Financial Condition” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014 and in other documents and reports subsequently filed by us with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Canadian provincial securities commissions. Forward-looking statements are given only as of the date hereof and we disclaim any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements in this release, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.
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