Sep. 26, 2013, 7:53 AM
- The CEO of Russian potash producer Uralkali (URALL.PK) is released from a Belarusian prison and placed under house arrest, signaling that the dispute over potash price may be nearing an end.
- The transfer to house arrest comes as Russian Pres. Putin is scheduled to meet today with Belarus Pres. Lukashenko and after Russia's prosecutor general met with his Belarus counterpart earlier this week.
- Stocks to watch: POT, MOS, AGU, IPI.
- ETFs: MOO, CROP, PAGG, VEGI.
Sep. 24, 2013, 10:20 AM
- Potash stocks are lower after China acquired a 12.5% stake in Russian potash producer Uralkali (URALL.PK -1.4%), a deal that could put new pressure on prices and reduce the chances of the Russia-Belarus cartel being revived.
- The deal could strengthen China's position in negotiations with other producers; China imports ~6M metric tons/year of potash, more than 10% of global demand, and the Chinese potash price is considered the global benchmark.
- The deal also could give Uralkali an upper hand in selling potash in the Chinese market ahead of Canpotex, the North American potash cartel owned by Potash (POT -1.4%), Mosaic (MOS -1.4%) and Agrium (AGU -0.8%).
- ETFs: MOO, CROP, PAGG, VEGI.
Sep. 19, 2013, 2:26 PM
- The president of Belarus hints for the first time at a possible resolution in the potash fight that has rocked global markets, suggesting he is open to the idea of sending the jailed Uralkali (URALL.PK) CEO back to Russia for prosecution there.
- Belarus officials reportedly issued a copy of their case file against the CEO to Russian authorities last week as the first step in possibly sending him back to Russia, where he could stand trial without being held in custody.
- Analysts say while a settlement in the potash case may be close, it is unclear if a renewed partnership would ever be able to restore the market to where it was.
- POT -2.1%, MOS -1.3%, AGU -1.1%, IPI -3.9%, SQM -1.4%.
Sep. 18, 2013, 10:41 AM
- Belarus is not willing to lower its potash prices as a cut would cause losses, a top government official says in comments viewed as raising the chance of reviving a sales cartel with Russia.
- Belarus is willing to cooperate with Uralkali (URALL.PK) in the future "in any format," the official says, when asked if the country would consider forming a new joint venture with the Russian firm; "our cooperation [with Uralkali] was a positive experience."
- POT -0.2%, MOS -0.2%, AGU -0.2%, IPI +0.4%.
- ETFs: MOO, CROP, PAGG, VEGI.
Sep. 17, 2013, 11:59 AM
- Russia continues to ratchet up the pressure on Belarus amid the potash spat, as an export schedule shows it will cut oil pipeline supplies to the country by 42% in Q4.
- According to the schedule, Russia will ship 3.1M metric tons of oil (62K bbl/day) to refineries in Belarus via pipeline in October-December, down from 5.3M metric tons originally planned for Q3.
- Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft also has said oil shipments to Belarus would be cut by 233K metric tons in September due to pipeline repairs.
- POT -1.8%, MOS -0.8%, AGU -1.4%, IPI -1%, SQM -0.9%.
Sep. 17, 2013, 9:43 AM
- Fertilizer producers open lower - but perhaps not as much as feared - after Mosaic (MOS -1.4%) cut its Q3 price and volume estimates in its potash and phosphates businesses, citing caution from dealers in the short term that has resulted in deferred purchases.
- Mosaic’s previous financial forecast had been made just two weeks before the breakup of the Russian potash marketing cartel; since then, “international crop nutrient markets have softened in part as a result of the distributors’ cautiousness,” the company says.
- POT -1.5%, AGU -0.5%, IPI -0.7%, CF -0.2%.
- ETFs: SOIL, MOO, CROP, PAGG, VEGI.
Sep. 16, 2013, 4:48 PM
- Mosaic (MOS) -3% AH after lowering Q3 price and volume guidance for its potash and phosphates segments.
- In potash, MOS expects volume of 1.45M-1.65M metric tons vs. earlier guidance of 1.8M-2.1M, reflecting lower near-term demand, and realized prices of $330-$340/metric ton (down $20 on the top end).
- In phosphates, MOS sees volume of 2.6M-2.8M metric tons vs. 2.9M-3.3M earlier, and realized prices of $430-$440/metric ton (down $25 on the top end), as distributors' cautious sentiment with respect to potash is spilling over.
- MOS says its long-term positive outlook for crop nutrient demand has not changed, but in the short term dealers are cautious and deferring purchases.
Sep. 16, 2013, 2:49 PM
- Shares of potash companies again push higher on reports that Uralkali (URALL.PK) could consider rejoining Belarus in a new pact.
- Russian financial daily Vedomosti outlined as many as seven potential sale options for main Uralkali owner Suleiman Kerimov and his partners, including one positing Rosneft (RNFTF.PK), which has cash in hand thanks to the dividend streams it receives from its energy holdings, as one potential buyer.
- "Rosneftegaz can consider anything, if someone makes an approach," holding company chairman Igor Sechin reportedly says, leaving the door open to a potential nationalization.
- POT +2.5%, MOS +0.2%, AGU +2.7%, IPI +8.5%, SQM +0.5%.
Sep. 13, 2013, 11:58 AM
- Rumors that Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov is selling his 21.7% stake in potash producer Uralkali (URALL.PK) reach a fever pitch, as news agency RIA Novosti reports a $3.7B sale to investor Vladimir Kogan; so far, neither party has issued a comment.
- POT +3.9%, MOS +3.8%, AGU +1.7%, IPI +6.1%, SQM +2%.
- ETFs: MOO, CROP, PAGG, VEGI.
Sep. 11, 2013, 2:59 PM
- Potash stocks have rallied in recent days on speculation that Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov will sell his 21.7% stake in Uralkali (URALL.PK), but Scotiabank's Ben Isaacson thinks the market is putting too much weight into the potential sale.
- Even if it does happen, the analyst thinks it's no more than a "mild positive" for the sector, noting Uralkali’s CEO remains in prison in Belarus; also, the subsequent trade war between Russia and Belarus is getting worse, and the elimination of a costly export tax has allowed Belaruskali to be more aggressive in negotiating prices with buyers and selling potash into the market.
- POT -2.6%, MOS -1.1%, AGU -1.8%, IPI -0.1%, SQM +0.2%.
Sep. 11, 2013, 12:20 PM
- The latest on the potash spat: Interpol issues an unusual statement refuting claims by Belarus that it had placed Uralkali (URALL.PK) owner Suleiman Kerimov and several executives from the Russian potash company on an international wanted list.
- Belarus said last week Interpol had issued an international arrest warrant for Kerimov after he had been charged in the country with abusing his power in connection to Uralkali’s split from its trading partnership with Belaruskali.
- The warrants were widely reported in Russian media and beyond, but Interpol now says no warrants have been issued and it is continuing to review requests from Belarus.
- POT -3.3%, MOS -1.3%, AGU -1.9%, IPI -0.5%, SQM -0.2%.
Sep. 10, 2013, 3:58 PM
- Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, whose foundation controls 21.7% of Uralkali (URALL.PK +17.6%), reportedly is in talks to sell his stake in an effort to defuse a bitter conflict with Belarus, where authorities have jailed the potash producer's CEO.
- A deal would value Kerimov's stake at just over $4B and could be completed as early as the end of this month, but deal may not be completed at all or could take a different form; Russia considers Uralkali a strategic asset and would be unlikely to allow a foreign takeover of the company.
- Belarus President Lukashenko said today that "sooner or later, the Russians will come back to us wanting to restore the status quo."
- POT +3.6%, MOS +3%, AGU +2.7%, IPI +1.5%, SQM +1.3%.
Sep. 10, 2013, 2:58 PM
- Russian potash producer Uralkali (URALL.PK), which exited the cartel controlling almost half of global exports, says prices are unlikely to fall below $300/metric ton as Asian and Brazilian demand will support sales.
- Since exiting the joint venture, Uralkali has ramped up to maximum output after running at an average 70% in 2012; it says it sold ~800K tons of potash in August to China, India, Brazil and South Asia vs. 1.9M tons for all of Q1.
- Also, Belarus President Lkashenko reportedly says he expects Russia to approach Belarus to seek a return to the potash status quo.
- POT +2.7%, MOS +2.2%, AGU +2.5%, IPI +0.8%, SQM +2.3%.
Sep. 9, 2013, 2:37 PM
- Potash shares remain strong despite cautious comments from Credit Suisse, which thinks investors are overreacting to rumors that Russian investors will take a stake in Uralkali (URALL.PK).
- A return to normal for potash producers is "extraordinarily unlikely" even with a new Uralkali shareholder structure, the firm says; either way, the situation isn't likely to be resolved in the near term.
- CS has an Underperform rating on Potash (POT +4.1%), Intrepid Potash (IPI +8.7%) and Compass Minerals (CMP +1.2%).
- Others: MOS +4%, AGU +1.8%, SQM +8.9%.
- Earlier: Putin says he wants to resolve the potash dispute.
Sep. 9, 2013, 9:09 AM
- Potash stocks are up sharply pre-market, apparently on reports that Russian Pres. Putin says he wants to resolve the country's bitter potash dispute with Belarus.
- Putin's spokesman had said earlier that Russia needed to study all Belarus claims before coming to any conclusions; harsher statements from Russian PM Medvedev suggests a possible split between the Kremlin and Medvedev's government in their commitment to support Uralkali.
- Premarket: POT +3.1%, MOS +3.6%, IPI +3.5%.
Sep. 5, 2013, 11:55 AM
- Belarus' president signs a decree creating a new potash trading company following the collapse of the country's partnership with Russia's Uralkali, and will cancel export duties on potash until the end of the year to "ensure the stable operation" of the new company.
- The new trading company will keep the same name - Belarusian Potash - but will be fully state-run and market only the country's potash.
- Foreshadowing falling prices, sources say Belaruskali has offered India a new supply contract for H2 2013 at $360/metric ton cost and freight, down $67/metric ton from H1 contract prices.
- POT -0.1%, MOS -0.7%, AGU -0.8%, SQM +3.8%, IPI +0.7%.
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