Terra Industries ( TRA) posted a lower first-quarter profit but is optimistic about the current quarter.

The fertilizer company reported a profit of $30 million, or 30 cents per share, down from $100 million, or 97 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. Revenue fell to $419.8 million, down from $574.7 million for the first quarter of 2008.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting 42 cents per share on revenue of $360.8 million.

The Sioux City, Iowa-based company attributed the revenue drop to lower ammonia selling prices and urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) and ammonium nitrate (AN) sales volumes. Ammonia selling prices decreased by 27% compared to the same period last year, while UAN and AN selling prices remained about the same. The decrease in ammonia selling prices "was due primarily to soft global industrial demand related to the economic downturn."

The company, which is the target of a hostile takeover by CF Industries ( CF), said that declines in industrial ammonia sales volumes were more than offset by a "healthy" start to the 2009 pre-plant ammonia application season as growers sought to make up for ammonia not applied in the fall of 2008.

Terra also declared a dividend of 10 cents per common share, payable June 9, to holders of record as of May 20.

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