After nitrogen, phosphate fertilizers are the most applied fertilizers. In 4Q17, median phosphate shipments continued their declining trend.
As the above chart shows, the overall median shipment growth fell 17% year-over-year compared to the corresponding quarter a year ago in 4Q16 when the phosphate shipments grew 4% year-over-year.
PotashCorp leads in phosphate shipments
In 4Q17, PotashCorp (POT) (NTR) saw the highest shipment growth for phosphate to 773 thousand metric tons from 715 thousand metric tons, or growth of 8% year-over-year. Mosaic (MOS), which had the largest phosphate shipment volumes (XLB) in 4Q17 at 2.5 million metric tons, saw flat growth compared to a year ago in 4Q16.
In contrast to these two companies, Agrium (AGU) experienced a significant decline in shipments by as much as 44% year-over-year to 107 thousand metric tons from 191 thousand metric tons a year ago. Similarly, Israel Chemicals’ (ICL) phosphate shipments also fell ~33% year-over-year to 501 thousand metric tons from 750 thousand metric tons a year ago in 4Q16.
Next, we will discuss phosphate prices and summarize the results by looking at phosphate margins.