NEW YORK (AP) -- A Citi analyst on Monday raised his rating for The Mosaic Co. to "Buy" from "Neutral" and added it to his firm's top picks list, saying that the fertilizer company should get a boost from an increase in corn prices, higher farmer demand for its products and a possible stock buyback program down the road.
THE OPINION: P.J. Juvekar also set a $66 price target for Mosaic. He noted that the company's shares haven't mirrored the 50 percent jump in corn prices since the start of June, rising just 21 percent, possibility partially because of the uncertainty surrounding fertilizer demand outside of North America.
But he said there's no reason to believe that the strong correlation between corn prices and fertilizer stocks has changed and predicted that Mosaic shares will reflect the strength in the grain markets over the next six to 12 months.
In addition, Juvekar said that investors shouldn't be overly concerned about a potential drop in North American demand stemming from drought conditions in the Midwest, pointing out that after past drought years, fertilizer use has increased.
Meanwhile, the company has about $3.8 billion in cash on its balance sheets that it hasn't been able to spend as a result of Cargill Inc.'s sale of its stake in the company last year. After the restrictions on the cash start to drop off next year, the company could launch a stock buyback program that could significantly boost its profits, Juvekar said.
THE STOCK: Down 15 cents to $57.35 in midday trading. At the same time, the overall market tumbled, with the Dow Jones industrial average plunging more than 200 points on fears about European debt.
Over the past 52 weeks, Mosaic shares have traded between $44.43 and $74.31. Since the beginning of this year, the shares have risen about 14 percent.
Among other fertilizer makers, shares of Agrium Inc. fell $1.36, or 1.4 percent, to $95.36; CF Industries Holdings Inc. lost $3.87, or 1.9 percent, to $198.90; and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. dropped 90 cents, or 2 percent, to $45.11.