Mosaic ( MOS), the big fertilizer outfit and rumored takeover target, posted hugely reduced top and bottom lines Wednesday for its fiscal fourth quarter and issued an outlook that peered into the future in order to grab on to some optimism. The company said it earned $147 million, or 33 cents a share, for the period that ended May 31, down more than 80% from the $863 million, or $1.93 a share, it earned a year ago. Analysts were expecting a profit of 10 cents a share. Revenue, meanwhile, plunged 54% to $1.6 billion in the quarter. Mosaic blamed the results on, essentially, the recession. More specifically, the company said in its earnings statement, "The significant decline in sales volumes, primarily potash, in the fourth quarter was related to continued cautious purchasing by customers due to, among other factors, volatile grain and oilseed prices, global economic conditions, the recalibration of the phosphate market to reflect, in part, lower raw material input costs and the lack of normal contracting activity in the potash market." A mouthful. But in looking ahead, Mosaic had more of it, arguing that its prospects are all but guaranteed, since they hinge on the future rebound and growth of the world's emerging economies. "From this growth, a new middle class is emerging that has the financial wherewithal to improve their diets. This long-term trend, along with steady global population increases, translates into continued demand for crop nutrients," the company said.
More narrowly, Mosaic said that inventories have fallen to such a low level that it forecasts a recovery in the crop-nutrient market during its fiscal 2010. Mosaic gave no specific financial guidance except to say that selling, general and administrative costs will range from $350 million to $370 million for the up-coming 12 months. Mosaic chief Jim Prokopanko also enthused in the earnings statement, saying, "While near-term uncertainties remain, we have emerged from the market turmoil of the past year as a stronger competitor and are poised to capitalize on the positive trends we foresee in the potash and phosphates markets." It was hard not to read such proclamations in light of
recent reports out of Sao Paolo that the Brazilian mining giant Vale ( VALE) had made a $25 billion offer to buy Mosaic -- who, if nothing else, might wish to argue for its financial strength in the wake of a bid that it feels is too low. Mosaic officials have declined to comment on the Brazilian reports, citing its no-comment stance on rumors. In after-market action Wednesday, Mosaic shares were trading at $48.00, down 42 cents from the regular session close.