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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Agrium Q4 profit falls 72% to US$99M; revenue slumps to$2.87B on falling prices

CALGARY - Agrium Inc. (TSX:AGU) has reported a big drop in fourth-quarter net earnings as the fertilizer giant also reported a decline in revenue amid lower prices across all product lines in its wholesale division.

The Calgary-based company reported after markets closed Thursday that net profit for the three months ended Dec. 31 was US$99 million or 66 cents per diluted share, down from US$354 million or $2.34 per diluted share in the same quarter a year ago.

Sales revenue dropped $226 million, or seven per cent to US$2.867 billion from US$3.093 billion.

Included in the quarter's results was a US$257-million purchase gain for the Viterra acquisition, a $220-million goodwill impairment for the Landmark business in Australia as well and EBITDA loss of $12 million, which included $8-million of integration costs, related to Viterra, it said.

For the full year, Agrium reported net income of US$1.06 billion or US$7.20 per diluted share on sales of US$15.7 billion. That was down from net earnings of US$1.49 billion or US$9.55 a share on revenue of US$16.02 billion in 2012.

"Agrium's Retail results were excellent this quarter, particularly considering the decline in nutrient prices that occurred and the compressed fall application season in the U.S.," president and CEO Chuck Magro said.

"Retail achieved record fourth-quarter results due to increased margins across almost all shelves. Our wholesale business unit, which has more direct exposure to volatility in nutrient markets, saw their results impacted by lower global prices across all nutrients."

However, he noted that global nitrogen and phosphate markets had firmed significantly in early 2014 "in response to what we expect will be a strong spring season," he said.

Agrium Inc. is a major retail supplier of agricultural products and services in North America, South America and Australia and a leading global wholesale producer and marketer of all three major agricultural nutrients and the premier supplier of specialty fertilizers in North America.

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