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Agrium remains attractive, in spite of Jana woes

Michael Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Agrium, addresses shareholders at the company's annual general meeting in Calgary, Alberta, May 12, 2010.


Validea's pick of the week provides a detailed report on a company that scores well in the stock-screening service's model portfolios. On, investors can analyze 1,000 Canadian stocks through 12 different guru-based models and get individual reports on each company. Globe Investor has a distribution agreement with Try it. Globe readers can get a limited-time 25-per-cent discount.

This week's pick is Agrium Inc., a global firm with a $16.7-billion market cap that produces crop nutrients (nitrogen, phosphate, and potash), as well as controlled-released nutrients and plant protection products for the agriculture, professional turf and ornamental markets.

Agrium has been in the news thanks to a battle with its largest shareholder, hedge fund Jana Partners, over whether to split up company's retail and wholesale businesses.

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Shares took a hit when U.S. government projected lower corn prices last month. That (and possibly the Jana situation) have helped make this strong business even more of an attractive bargain to Validea's Peter Lynch-based guru model; 12.8 P/E and 44 per cent long-term EPS growth make for stellar 0.29 P/E-to-growth ratio.

The Lynch model also rates highly that its inventory/sales ratio fell from 23.1 per cent to 19 per cent in most recent year, showing its products are in demand.

It packs a second punch with the Joel Greenblatt-based model, thanks to 12.5 per cent earnings yield and 31.2 per cent return on capital.

It has also grown revenues at 24 per cent annual pace over long term, and has averaged 16 per cent return on equity over past decade (18 per cent over last 12 months).

Click here to read the full report for a detailed breakdown.

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