Nutrien misses quarterly profit estimates as potash prices plummet

The Nutrien Redwater Fertilizer plant near Fort Saskatchewan

(Reuters) - Nutrien fell short of analysts' estimates for third-quarter profit on Wednesday, as lower potash prices weighed on the world's biggest fertilizer producer.

Potash prices have been falling after shipments from Belarus and Russia resumed. These exports had been significantly restricted last year following Western sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

Demand for fertilizers was also weak during much of the year, analysts have said, as farmers waited for prices to settle down.

Potash prices averaged $250 per tonne during the reported quarter, the company said, compared with $633 per tonne a year earlier.

The company's U.S.-listed shares fell 3% after the bell.

Nutrien said potash sales volumes, however, climbed 23% on strong sales in North America.

Fertilizer inventories in the U.S. had been running low which should result in relatively robust demand, BofA Global Research analyst Steve Byrne had said ahead of the earnings.

On an adjusted basis, Nutrien reported earnings of 35 cents per share for the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with the average analyst estimate of 64 cents, according to LSEG data.

Nutrien, the top U.S. agricultural retailer, also narrowed its adjusted earnings forecast for 2023 to a range of $4.15 to $5.00 per share, compared with a range of $3.85 and $5.60 earlier.

The company forecast fourth-quarter fertilizer demand would be up 5% to 10% year-on-year.

Nutrien added it was lowering its nitrogen sales volume forecast due to the unplanned outages in the third quarter and pull-forward of a planned maintenance outage at its Borger site in the current quarter.

(Reporting by Sourasis Bose in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)