Growers Boost Fertilizer Demand

10/05/2009 4:18 pm EST


Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor,

The just-ended and about-to-be-reported third quarter is shaping up as Yara International’s (OTC.PK: YARIY) kitchen-sink quarter.

Order volumes for the Norwegian fertilizer producer have picked up for 2010, but prices, in many cases set way back in June, are still low. Yara, global leader in nitrogen fertilizer production, has been cutting prices to reduce inventory going into the end of 2009, and the company is likely to take a big writedown in this quarter as a result.

That will, however, let the company go forward into 2010 poised for the pickup in fertilizer demand as farmers start to order for the 2010 growing season in the northern hemisphere. (See my most recent update on my other fertilizer buy, Potash of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT).)

Global fertilizer demand dropped by about 5% in 2009—not much in percentage terms, but more than enough to hammer prices. After two good harvests (in most of the world’s food-producing regions), farmers who have cut down on applying fertilizer to their fields should be back in the market.

As of October 5, 2009, I’m setting a new target price for Yara International of $37 a share, down just a dollar from my previous target, but stretching out the timetable to September 2010 from December 2009. That target is just about 13x my projected earnings per share for 2010.

Full disclosure: I own shares of Yara International in my personal portfolio.

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