Potash Shares Rally

A surge in the price of the company's principal fertilizer agreement -- potash -- and a drought help to lift shares.
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Shares of

Potash

(POT)

, a Canadian producer of fertilizer, rallied Friday as prices of its namesake ingredient have surged recently.

Also, the company could benefit from droughts in Brazil and China, according to Bloomberg.com. The Web site reported that with grain and oilseed prices higher, farmers may buy more fertilizer for the planting season.

An impure form of potassium carbonate, potash is the common term for fertilizer forms of the element potassium.

Potash the company

reported a doubling of its earnings

on Jan. 22, but had tempered its outlook at the time.

Scotiabank economist Patricia Moh says potash purchasers are currently paying $872.50 per ton in Vancouver, according to potashinvestingnews.com. The Web site also reported that

prices of potash

, once $200 a ton, could go as high as $1,500 by 2020.

Potash recorded potash sales of $932 million for the fourth quarter, compared with $479 million a year ago. Although until recently, Potash shares hadn't rallied.

In the past 52 weeks, shares have ranged from $47.54 to $ 241.62. The shares have been volatile recently, dropping below $50 in the first week of December before climbing higher.

The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company notched its third-best quarter ever and saw full-year 2008 earnings rise to $11.01 per share ($3.5 billion), more than triple the $3.40 per share ($1.1 billion) earned in 2007.

The company said that although the global economic crisis led to slower demand for its main fertilizer ingredients -- potash, phosphate and nitrogen -- and lower prices for phosphate and nitrogen, potash operations drove fourth-quarter gross margin to $873.1 million, 63% more than the $535 million in the same period last year.