Potential for record potash demand in 2017
PotashCorp’s second quarter earnings report (released today) should be of interest to everybody in Saskatchewan. Once you get past the financial statements, they discuss the market outlook for potash itself. This outlook is a forecast for how the entire industry will do, which impacts 1,000s of jobs in our province in addition to things like royalties.
I have copied and pasted two sections of the report and inserted them below. The full report is here.
“Fertilizer markets have been under pressure through the first six months of 2016, however we believe the uncertainty that weighed on potash market sentiment is now lifting and a recovery is beginning,” said PotashCorp President and Chief Executive Officer Jochen Tilk. “With key Asian contract prices settled by a number of producers – and buyer inventories at reduced levels – we are seeing improved engagement in all key markets.”
“This recovery process requires patience and we believe adherence to our strategy will continue to position us for long-term success. Consistent with our strategy, we have taken meaningful steps over the past 12 months to align our operating capability with expected market conditions and to reduce costs, including the suspension of potash operations in New Brunswick and production curtailments in Saskatchewan,” said Tilk.
“This measured approach to markets and operations is also reflected in our approach to capital allocation. Protecting our balance sheet while maintaining a competitive dividend remains a top priority as it not only enables us to weather challenges like those experienced this year, but it also positions us to seize opportunities as we go forward. In that context – and with a need to balance the interests of our shareholders and debtholders – we intend to realign our quarterly dividend to $0.10 per share beginning with the declaration of our next dividend in September.”
“With customer sentiment improving and announced industry shutdowns, we anticipate a more supportive potash environment through the balance of the year. Importantly, we see the potential for record demand in 2017 with annual shipments in the range of 61-64 million tonnes, as strong affordability incents farmers to replenish soil nutrients. We are positioned to benefit from an improved environment next year and we support Canpotex as they take a cautious approach to the Chinese and Indian markets, committing volumes only through the remainder of 2016.”
Potash Market Outlook
Following a prolonged period of market uncertainty and weakening fundamentals, we believe potash markets have reached their low point. Recently settled contracts in China and India and a reduction in inventory throughout the supply chain over the last six months are expected to support a more constructive environment. Much like recoveries seen after previous periods of delayed contracts, we anticipate stronger buyer engagement to support demand through the second half of 2016 with full-year estimates of 58-61 million tonnes.
In North America, we anticipate improved affordability will help support deliveries for the rest of 2016. We expect shipments for the full year in the range of 9.2-9.7 million tonnes, up from the prior quarter’s estimate and above 2015’s total.
In Latin America, favorable crop economics and agronomic need are expected to push 2016 shipments to 10.8-11.3 million tonnes – slightly above 2015 totals and in line with our previous guidance range.
In China, we expect recently settled contracts and strong underlying consumption to support 2016 shipments in the range of 13.5-14.5 million tonnes, consistent with our previous estimates, but below 2015’s record levels. While contract negotiations are ongoing, Canpotex expects to deliver tonnage to its Chinese customers in the second half of 2016.
In India, we anticipate that an improved monsoon and lower farm retail prices will support improved potash consumption for the rest of the year, but due to weaker first-half deliveries, we have lowered our 2016 shipment estimate to a range of 3.7-4.2 million tonnes. Canpotex has reached agreements with its customers in India for shipments over the next three months with deliveries expected to begin in the weeks ahead.
In Other Asian markets, adverse weather conditions and cautious buying patterns during the first half are expected to result in demand of 8.3-8.7 million tonnes for the full year, below our previous expectations and 2015’s total as well.