NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of Mosaic (MOS - Get Report) lost ground in late trades after the Kingston, Minn. company missed Wall Street's profit expectations for its fiscal third-quarter results, citing lower potash volumes and higher phosphate raw material costs for a year-over-year decline in earnings of nearly 50%.
For the three months ended Feb. 29, Mosaic reported earnings of $273.3 million, or 64 cents a share, down from a year-ago equivalent profit of $542.1 million, or $1.21 a share, and below the average estimate of analysts polled by
Thomson Reuters for earnings of 74 cents a share.
Sales totaled $2.19 billion for the quarter, a slight drop from $2.21 billion a year ago, but above the average analysts' estimate of $2.13 billion.
The stock was last quoted at $56.90, down 2.3%, on volume of more than 330,000, according to Nasdaq.com.Mosaic said its gross margin came in at $522 million, or 24% of sales in the most recent quarter, down from $854 million, or 39% of sales in the same period a year earlier. "The Potash segment's operating results reflect delayed purchases, as buyers remained cautious," said Jim Prokopanko, the company's president and CEO. "While the seasonal lull and risk aversion slowed sales in the third fiscal quarter, we continue to expect near-record global shipments in 2012 and a very strong North American spring season. During the quarter, we produced 1.8 million tonnes and positioned inventory to capture global demand as it emerges." Based on Wednesday's regular session close at $58.22, Mosaic shares were up 16% so far in 2012, but down more than 25% in the past year. The stock's 52-week high of $83.41 dates back to April 5. Check out TheStreet's quote page for Mosaic for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.