EBITDA was $729.1 million in the third quarter of 2012, an increase of 14 percent compared to $640.8 million in the third quarter of 2011.
Net sales in the third quarter were $1.36 billion, down three percent from $1.40 billion in the same period last year primarily due to lower total nitrogen volume and phosphate product prices, which were offset partially by higher phosphate volume. Total sales volume decreased two percent to 3.5 million tons in the third quarter of 2012 largely due to lower urea sales compared to the prior year period. Lower phosphate product prices resulted from lower global demand relative to the same period last year, while the phosphate volume increase resulted from strong demand in North America.
“As dealers moved to address tight inventories, we achieved exceptional results during what is the normal seasonal low quarter of the year,” said Stephen R. Wilson, chairman and chief executive officer, CF Industries Holdings, Inc. “We generated a 52 percent gross margin, leading to record third quarter EBITDA, net earnings and earnings per share. We also built a strong order book for the fourth quarter, indicative of robust nitrogen demand in anticipation of another year of high planted acres in 2013.”
Fertilizer markets were characterized by good demand in North America during the quarter, as purchasing activity for summer fill programs was brisk and fertilizer dealers and distributors sought to replenish inventories in anticipation of a high level of fall field work to support large expected crop plantings in 2013. However, purchasing activity was less than expected during the quarter in international markets, in particular in Central and South America.Low water levels on the Mississippi River created logistical challenges for CF Industries and other suppliers that rely on the inland waterway system. However, the company was able to deal effectively with these challenges thanks to its ability to utilize various transportation modes including pipeline, rail and truck, and, as a result, was able to serve customers seamlessly.