Nutrien cuts 2020 forecast as corn demand, potash prices hit

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Reuters — Fertilizer maker Nutrien said Wednesday it has seen limited impact from the COVID-19 outbreak, but cut its annual forecast as oil downturn hit corn demand and potash prices are hard-pressed outside North America.

Biofuel producers have been hit by plummeting demand for gasoline and jet fuel after severe global travel restrictions were imposed to stem the coronavirus spread. Several, including Archer Daniels Midland, have shuttered ethanol plants.

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Saskatoon-based Nutrien’s potash sales volumes in North America rose, propped up on expectations of seeds being planted in a larger area, but prices still suffered as the benchmark was dragged by weak offshore demand.

Nutrien said it has so far seen lower-than-expected potash shipments in 2020 and is lowering full-year global shipments forecast range by around one million tonnes to between 65 million and 67 million tonnes.

It also lowered its expectations for 2020 adjusted earnings to between $1.50 per share and $2.10 per share, below the prior range of $1.90-$2.60 per share.

Nutrien, the world’s largest potash producer by capacity, reported an adjusted loss of 12 cents per share in the first quarter ended March 31, double the six cents loss analysts were expecting, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Meanwhile, pesticides and seed producer Corteva Agriscience posted a higher quarterly profit, benefiting from farmers stockpiling crop supplies ahead of the planting season to avoid supply disruptions from the coronavirus.

— Reporting for Reuters by Shariq Khan in Bangalore.

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