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Agrium Management Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

With this in mind, we announced the share repurchase program of $900 million in association with the sale of the Medicine Hat facility that was announced last night. The sale of the equity position in the Medicine Hat nitrogen facility represented a compelling return for this asset. In essence, Agrium will obtain the retail business from Viterra for about $175 million plus working capital of approximately $400 million.

While our earnings are a testament to the strong demand for crop inputs that existed throughout the first half of the year, the outlook for our business for the remainder of 2012 and into 2013 is also very promising. Record grain and oilseed prices will provide growers around the world with the economic incentive to expand acreage and to optimize their use of Agrium's complete line of Agrium products and services.

I'll return to discuss the outlook in more detail shortly, but we'll first take a few minutes to review our quarterly results.

Our Retail results speak for themselves this quarter and illustrate our ability to continue successfully growing our earnings base by capturing the significant opportunity in the global crop input space.

Retail achieved its highest second quarter and first half earnings in our history, with EBITDA topping $700 million for the first half. Retail EBITDA for the last 12 months surpassed $900 million, significantly demonstrating the rapid progress that we've made towards achieving earnings growth goal for retail. This is even before accounting for the future earnings from Viterra's retail assets.

This strong performance was due to the continuation of robust demand for crop input products and services across all products and most regions. Retail's total EBITDA to sales margin rose to 9% in the first half of 2012 and over 10% in the North American market. Contributions from numerous small retail acquisitions made over the past 12 months added just over 2% to our sales in the first half of 2012, with a similar percentage contribution towards expenses and earnings during the period.

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