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Cameron Rowan drives a front loader filled with potash in the Mosaic Potash Colonsay mine in Colonsay, Saskatchewan September 24, 2009.

DAVID STOBBE/DAVID STOBBE/REUTERS

Higher prices for phosphate and potash fertilizers offset a drop in volumes and helped Mosaic Co. post a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

The company, which is majority owned by agribusiness giant Cargill Inc., is closely tied to the booming agricultural sector, which has been aided in part by the increasing global demand for food. The fertilizers that Mosaic mines and processes help farmers grow more food.

"The world's expanding need for food reinforces strong, long-term demand for crop nutrients," chief executive officer Jim Prokopanko said in a statement.

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During the fiscal third quarter ended Feb. 28, Mosaic earned $542.1-million (U.S.), or $1.21 per share, compared with $222.6-million, or 50 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Analysts expected earnings of $1.07 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 30 per cent to $2.21-billion. Analysts had expected $2.34-billion.

Volumes of phosphate, a compound that helps plant cells build walls and is primarily mined in Florida, fell 4.1 per cent. Phosphate sales, though, were helped by a 62-per-cent price increase.

Volumes of potash, another popular fertilizer that Mosaic is spending billions to boost production of, fell 1 per cent. Potash prices increased 1 per cent.

Cargill has announced a plan to sell off its ownership stake in Mosaic using a complex transaction that will start in May.

Interest in June options for Mosaic's shares surged ahead of Mosaic's earnings release. June is the first full month after Cargill's exit gets under way.

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Shares of the Plymouth, Minn.-based company fell 0.3 per cent to $80.18 in after-hours trading. The stock has traded between $37.68 and $89.24 in the past 52 weeks.



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