ROB MAGAZINE: What investors still don’t understand about Nutrien – by Michael McCullough (Globe and Mail – October 27, 2020)

Farmers in Saskatchewan have been social distancing for over a century, the joke in the agricultural sector goes. Behind the cheap laugh lies an essential truth: A global pandemic isn’t felt much on a crop farm.

The work conditions don’t require a lot of human contact compared to other industries and, as another well-worn industry adage goes, “People gotta eat.”

Which is good news for Nutrien Inc., the largest producer of potash—and second largest of nitrogen fertilizer—in the world, with 20,000 employees and a market capitalization approaching $30 billion.

It’s also only in its third year of existence. Nutrien was born from the merger on Jan. 1, 2018, of PotashCorp of Saskatchewan and Agrium Inc., each a multibillion-dollar concern with its own long history.

The combined company has largely lived up to its pre-merger promises—if you allow for some factors out of its control. In its 2019 annual report, Nutrien reported US$650 million in cost savings, achieved as a result of integrating its two predecessors (up from the US$500 million projected pre-merger).

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