Analysts debate whether Uralkali's China deal starts a potash price recovery


Uralkali (URALL) yesterday reached a potash sales deal with China for $305/metric ton, indicating a possible end to the uncertainty in the potash market after prices fell more than 25% from $400/ton last summer when the Russian producer left a trading partnership with Belarus and broke an informal global pricing cartel.

While J.P. Morgan seems to see a return to price rationality, others aren't so sure; Morgan Stanley is looking ahead to H2, when demand is weak and there's incentive to price undercut again, while Cowen thinks the new contract is likely to keep pricing down for some time to come and, combined with Agrium's (AGU -0.1%) downward guidance, may weigh on fertilizer shares.

Wunderlich notes Intrepid Potash (IPI -0.6%) sells granulated potash, which is priced at a 10%-15% premium to standard; at $335/ton potash, the firm figures IPI could see a ~$165M swing in free cash flow in 2014 from a negative $115M last year to a positive $50M-$55M in 2014.

Also: POT -1.3%, MOS -0.5%.

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