Agrium Inc. (AGU), North America's third- largest crop-nutrient maker, and two rivals rose to records in U.S. and Canadian trading after Russian producer OAO Uralkali (URKA) said potash prices may surpass $1,000 a metric ton this year.
Agrium jumped C$4.90, or 6.7 percent, to C$78.09 at 4:15 p.m. on the Toronto Stock Exchange after earlier touching an all-time high $78.25. The shares have advanced 67 percent in the past year as crop-nutrient prices rose and fertilizer producers sought to keep pace with expanding demand.
Potash, a form of potassium, may reach $1,000 a ton ``rather fast'' because world output trails demand by 1.2 million tons, Oleg Petrov, sales chief for Berezniki, central Russia-based Uralkali, told investors today on a conference call. A price topping $1,000 a ton would be a fivefold increase from 2007. Both Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. and Mosaic Co. (MOS:US) set new highs.
Agrium, which sells potash and other nutrients, also gained after UBS AG analyst Brian MacArthur raised his price target on the Calgary-based company's New York-traded shares by 9.2 percent to $95, citing higher fertilizer prices. MacArthur also lifted his target for Potash Corp., the largest maker of crop nutrients, by 11 percent to $235 a share.
Potash and other nutrient prices will rise after China imposed duties of 100 percent or more on phosphate and urea exports, Toronto-based MacArthur said today in a note to clients.
``Panic will likely continue to unsettle the market'' for potash, MacArthur said. He rates Agrium shares ``buy.''
MacArthur also forecast phosphate prices to surpass $1,100 a ton, to $1,105 this year. Urea, potash and phosphates are all used to make fertilizers.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Potash Corp. rose C$2.66, or 1.5 percent, to close at a record C$185.35 in Toronto after earlier reaching $188.02. MacArthur also rates Potash shares ``buy.''
Mosaic, North America's second-largest producer of crop nutrients by market value, rose $4.79, or 3.9 percent, to close at a record $126.40 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Mosaic, based in Plymouth, Minnesota, touched an all- time high $127.78 earlier in the session.
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