I'd like to welcome the media who are listening in and remind people that we are live on our website. This morning, we posted an investor presentation on our website and during Bill's remarks, we will be highlighting some information from this presentation. I would also like to remind everyone that today's call may include forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are given as of the date of this call and involve risks and uncertainties. A number of factors and assumptions were applied in the formulation of such statements, and actual results could differ materially.For additional information with respect to forward-looking statements, factors and assumptions, we direct you to our news release and our most recent Form 10-K. Also today’s news release, which is posted on our website, includes a reconciliation of certain non-GAAP financial measures to their most directly comparable GAAP measures. I'd like to now turn the call over to Bill Doyle for some comments, and then we'll go to questions. William Doyle All right. Thank you, Denita, and good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us for this discussion of Potash Corp.'s fourth quarter and full year performance and our outlook as we enter 2011. We believe we are moving into one of the most positive environments for agriculture that we have seen in our company's history, and we appreciate this opportunity to discuss how we are uniquely positioned to benefit from the conditions we see today. As anticipated, 2010 was a transition year for the fertilizer industry and our company. In the first half of the year, European debt levels and the pace of global economic recovery weighed heavily on financial markets. But those issues held people's attention. Fundamentals for fertilizer were rapidly strengthening in the background, as demand for food continued to rise and grain inventories began to tighten. As the year progressed and pressure on the world's food supplies became more pronounced, prices for crop commodities moved higher. Many farmers who had reduced their fertilizer applications during the economic downturn returned to the market in full force to replenish nutrients in their soils and capitalize on favorable economics. Fertilizer dealers who were working with limited product in their warehouses increased purchases to meet the needs of their customers.
The impact of this rising demand was most apparent in potash, which has the greatest influence on our performance. After passing an important inflection point in the third quarter, demand continue to accelerate, pushing global shipments for 2010 to around 52 million tons, a 75% increase over the previous year.Our fourth quarter earnings of $1.61 per share or $482 million raised our earnings for 2010 to $5.95 per share or $1.8 billion, the second highest total in our history. These results included costs related to our takeover response, which amounted to $0.16 per share for the fourth quarter and $0.18 for the year. Fourth quarter gross margin of $763 million was the highest for any quarter in 2010 and raised our full year gross margin to $2.6 billion. Improvement in our 2010 performance was driven primarily by increased potash volumes as our sales nearly tripled compared to the previous year. Prices for all three nutrients moved higher in the latter half of 2010, with phosphate and nitrogen moving first, while potash price increases took hold during the fourth quarter. These results were more than a measure of the change that took hold in 2010 as they also provided a glimpse of our potential in the years to come. Our confidence is founded in the long-term drivers of food and fertilizer demand, mainly a growing world population and economic expansion in developing countries. While the global recession created short-term fluctuations in the agricultural world, food demand did not waver. In our view, the drivers of our business are more powerful today than ever before. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com