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What 2017 Meant for Phosphate Producers

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Phosphate fertilizers

Performance-wise, phosphate fertilizers have been weaker than potash and nitrogen fertilizers in 2017. As we’ve seen so far in this series, prices are key to investments in fertilizer companies. For the latest developments, read Fertilizer Price Update: Week Ended December 15.

Price trends

Mosaic’s (MOS), Agrium’s (AGU), and PotashCorp’s (POT) median sales price grew ~1% year-over-year in 3Q17. On average, Agrium’s phosphate prices fell 4%, while PotashCorp’s and Mosaic’s fell 1%. The decline in phosphate prices affected these companies’ margins.

Why prices fell

Like potash and nitrogen fertilizer prices, phosphate prices likely fell due to excess capacity in 2017. In its 3Q17 earnings release, Israel Chemicals (ICL) stated that “the phosphate market is experiencing a challenging period as increased supply in low production cost regions surpasses demand, resulting in price pressure.” However, more recently, phosphate prices have picked up due to an unexpected imbalance on the supply side (XLB). This year’s hurricanes caused supply disruption, resulting in price increases. In the next part, we’ll continue our discussion on phosphate prices in 2018.

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