Nutrien outlook falls below expectations as trade dispute weighs on prices (Canadian Press/Financial Post – February 8, 2019)

SASKATOON — Nutrien Ltd. says lower crop prices last year from trade uncertainty and high crop yields put pressure on its customers but that it expects the situation to improve this year.

Prices are already improving for key crops and the fundamentals have improved, said company CEO Chuck Magro on an earnings call Thursday. “We do expect farmer economics to improve in 2019, crop prices are up.”

He said farmers in the key U.S. market had a tough time last year as a trade dispute saw China impose tariffs on some U.S. crops. “Crop prices started to recover early in the year… but then the trade uncertainty hit, that provided a significant amount of pressure on crop prices, and that has hurt our farmer customers.”

Trade uncertainty remains an issue with the potential for the U.S. to raise tariffs to 25 per cent on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods, while the record production from last year continues to weigh on prices.

The pressures factored into Nutrien’s expected earnings of between $2.80 and $3.20 per share for this year, below analyst expectations of $3.38 per share according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

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