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Fertilizer maker CF Industries' profit beats estimates

(Adds details, shares)

May 3 (Reuters) - U.S. nitrogen fertilizer producer CF Industries Holdings Inc reported a better-than-expected adjusted profit on Wednesday, as higher production offset lower fertilizer prices.

The Deerfield, Illinois-based company's shares rose about 4 percent to $26.50 in after-hours trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

"Strong early season demand for ammonia and urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) in the Southern Plains and lower Midwest," led to higher sales volumes in the first quarter ended March 31, the company said.

Total sales volume by product tons of ammonia rose to 920,000 in the quarter from 737,000, while that of urea increased to 958,000 from 919,000.

Fertilizer prices have faced pressure from weakening U.S. farmer incomes. The average selling price for ammonia fell about 18 percent to $307 per ton, while urea's decreased to $248 per ton from $256 a year earlier.

Net loss attributable to shareholders was $23 million, or 10 cents per share, compared with a profit of $26 million, or 11 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding items, CF earned 5 cents per share, beating the average analyst estimate of 2 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales rose marginally to $1.04 billion from $1 billion. (Reporting by Ahmed Farhatha in Bengaluru and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Martina D'Couto)