PotashCorp cut its forecasts for full-year profits for the second time in three months, blaming the market "uncertainty" prompted by the break-up of the Belarusian Potash Company for hurting sales.
The Canadian based group, North America's largest fertilizer producer, said that its results for the July-to-September quarters would show earnings per share of about $0.41, below the range of $0.45-0.60 it guided to in July.
The revised figure was also below the $0.47-per-share result expected by Wall Street, and implies a sharp drop in earnings from the same quarter last year, when they came in at $0.75 a share.
It also reflects the latest in a series of profit disappointments at PotashCorp, which in July lowered its forecast for full-year earnings after its results in the April-to-June quarter fell short of forecasts.
Its 2012 earnings too also missed guidance - which had been downgraded in a profits warning in October last year.
PotashCorp blamed Friday's profits warnings on "lower-than-forecasted potash sales volumes late in the quarter", reflecting the fallout from the break-up of BPC, late in July, by Russia's Uralkali.
"Buyers continued to defer significant purchases amidst near-term market uncertainty," PotashCorp said.
Consumers have delayed potash orders in expectation that the demise of BPC, which controlled more than 40% of world trade volumes, would lead to a drop in prices.
Uralkali initially forecast potash prices potentially dropping from some $400 a tonne to below $300 a tonne, although it last month signalled expectations of a less dramatic decline.
The PotashCorp profits warning comes two weeks after the group's chief financial officer, Wayne Brownless, warned of a "paralysed" potash market, thanks to the uncertainty following BPC's break-up.
"The reaction is anybody who has got inventory doesn't want to see a price drop," Mr Brownlee told investors.
"So people start to not order, they start to try and wind-down their inventory so they are not caught with high-cost inventory.
"Then the people who need it are putting it off as long as they can, because they don't want to get into the marketplace and then find out that two weeks later [the price] is down."
Buyers' success in winning discounts "depends on the strength of their negotiating power with whoever they are dealing with", he said.