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Agrium's Viterra Assets Buy Cleared

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Agrium Inc. (AGU) announced that it has received a go ahead to acquire Viterra Inc.'s Canadian retail assets after entering into a consent agreement with the Canadian Competition Bureau. The company has cleared the Canadian competition review process and can now proceed with the acquisition.

As part of the agreement, Agrium will acquire about 210 retail stores across Western Canada in addition to the 13 previously acquired Viterra retail locations in Australia. According to Agrium, the acquisition of Viterra’s assets will be an excellent fit to its portfolio as it will be able to provide highly competitive products, services and technologies by combining its experience with Viterra's profound knowledge of western Canadian agriculture. Agrium plans to disclose the financial details of the transaction on closure of the acquisition.

Agrium, a prominent Canadian fertilizer companies along with Mosaic (MOS) and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT), released its second-quarter 2013 results in Aug.

The company’s second-quarter earnings (excluding one-time items other than stock-based compensation expenses) of $5.09 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $4.95. After including one-time items, the company reported earnings of $5.02 per share compared with $5.44 in the year-ago quarter. Profit fell 13.1% year over year to $747 million as cold weather in North America caused farmers to make fewer applications in the quarter.

Revenues increased roughly 3.6% year over year to $7,016 million in the reported quarter and exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $7,000 million. Increased Retail and Advanced Technologies sales led to the higher revenues in the quarter.

Agrium currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Another company in the fertilizer industry worth considering is China BlueChip ADR (CBLUF) carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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