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Phosphate demand 'to rally' in 2016

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Global phosphate demand is set to rise, thanks to increased farmer budgets in key regions, Russian fertilizer producer PhosAgro said.

But although exports from China are falling, increased production in Morocco and elsewhere could cap any price gains.

PhosAgro announced rising profits and revenues in the first three months of 2016, despite very low global prices, thanks to higher volumes and exchange rate effects of a weaker rouble.

Rising demand

Prices for diammonium phosphate fell below $350 a tonne in February 2016, the lowest levels seen since 2009.

But the fall in pricing is now encourage farmer application, said PhosAgro.

Falling fertilizer prices have made inputs more affordable relative to crop prices, which have recently risen, which will mean "stable demand", the company said, as farmers increase application and acreage.

A seasonal uptick in demand from key Asian and Latin American markets from June to September is "expected to have a stabilising effect on the market," PhosAgro said.

Subsidies in place

PhosAgro chief executive Andrey Guryev forecast phosphate demand to increase through 2016, with more demand for complex fertilizer products.

"The recent recovery in grain and oil-seed prices will provide fundamental support for a fertilizer price recovery," said Mr Guryev.

"Overall, trends are positive in the most important fertilizer-consuming regions," said Mr Guryev, pointing to supportive government subsidies in for phosphate in India, and interest rate subsidies that will ease the cost of credit for Brazilian farmers.

"Interest rate subsidies are now in place, and we saw phosphate-based fertilizer imports increase by more than 30% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2016," Mr Guryev said.

Chinese production eases

And supplies from China, which rose throughout 2015 have finally started to fall off.

Diammonium phosphate prices are currently bellow the world cost of production, driving a sharp drop in Chinese exports in the first three months of 2016.

Phospate pricing is likely to lead to the closure of loss-making Chinese facilities, and further falls in production, although production from Morocco, which has a relatively low cost of production, will compensate for those losses, PhhosAgro said, warning that high levels of competition may continue to hold back fertilizer price growth.

Profits rise

Across the whole business, including potash and nitrogen products, PhosAgro saw revenues rise by 12% to 56.1bn roubles.

Net profits rose by 60%, to 22.6bn roubles.

Mr Guryev said the rise in profits and revenues came despite "a very challenging environment for the industry overall".

Rouble-denominated sales will continue to benefit from the exchange-rate with the dollar, PhosAgro said.

The rouble rose about 17% between the end of March 2015, and the end of March 2016.

Volumes up

Revenues from PhosAgro's phosphate product segment rose by 15% year-on-year in the first three months of 2016, to 49.5bn roubles, with profits up 11% year on year.

Production an volumes of phosphate fertilizers rose by 13%, while sales volumes for phosphate rock rose by 16% year on year.

Revenues from sales of phosphate rock rose by 55% year-on-year, to 7.9bn roubles, thanks to higher rouble-denominated prices and higher sales volumes.

PhosAgro increased overall production volumes by 10% in the first three month of 2016.

PhosAgro shares were up 0.8%, at 2,952 roubles, in early afternoon deals in Moscow.


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