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"Stagnant potash prices, an uncertain economic picture, and increasing costs have created divergent fortunes for potash producers in recent weeks, with rising sales numbers contrasting with near multi-year lows for stock values.

A number of firms have been able to make strong sales gains on the back of recent strong international farming fundamentals and reduced supply after majors Mosaic (NYSE:MOS) and PotashCorp (TSX:POT,NYSE:POT) cut output at the beginning of the year.

“From the beginning of the second quarter there has been a re-awakening of demand in the fertiliser market,” Israel Chemicals (ICL), the world’s sixth-largest producer of potash, said this week.

ICL is one of the stronger performers, and recently announced larger-than-expected Q1 profits of US$288.9 million - above its previous forecast of US$267.2 million - thanks to sales in Brazil’s recovering soybean markets and a renewed Chinese supply contract signed at the end of March.

“Given this contract and decreased inventories in the global supply channels, coupled with strong farming fundamentals, this should result in improved demand in the second quarter,” Citi analyst Andrew Benson told Reuters this week."

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