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Agrium Inc. lowers Q4 earnings expectations to 'bottom' of earlier guidance

CALGARY - Agrium (TSX:AGU) expects fourth-quarter earnings to be at the "bottom" of its previously released guidance range of 80 cents US to US$1.25 per diluted share, the fertilizer producer said Monday.

Agrium says its updated guidance is primarily due to lower than expected selling prices across all wholesale nutrients in the quarter and lower than expected urea ammonium nitrate and domestic potash sales volumes, partly due to problems with rail shipments.

Meanwhile, Agrium said its retail operations are expected to achieve record results for the fourth quarter and for 2013 as a whole.

"Retail was able to offset industry headwinds of lower nutrient prices and a compressed fall season in the U.S. by achieving higher margins for nutrients, seed and services and other product lines," the company said in a release after markets closed.

Agrium also expects to report a number of one-time adjustments in the fourth quarter that are excluded from fourth-quarter guidance, including a purchase gain of approximately US$250 million related to the acquisition of the Viterra's Canadian retail business last Oct. 1.

Regarding its AWB Ltd./Landmark acquisition, Agrium said results would reflect the receipt of some US$70-million for an insurance recovery relating to a long-standing litigation case on soybean shipments and a goodwill impairment of approximately $220-million in Landmark.

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 major and specialty fertilizers in North America.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange,Agrium shares closed up $1.24 at $104.37 on Monday.

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