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Fertilizer maker CF's stock down after sales drop

NEW YORK (AP) -- CF Industries' stock dropped Wednesday after the fertilizer company reported a decline in fourth-quarter revenue that was deeper than analysts had predicted.

THE SPARK: CF Industries reported late Tuesday that its profit in the October-December quarter grew 7 percent to nearly $471 million, or $7.40 per share. But revenue slid 14 percent to $1.48 billion because of a change in selling prices from one plant's products and as prices for phosphate products declined on lower demand.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected lower earnings, of $6.88 per share, but predicted less of a revenue decline, to $1.59 billion.

THE BIG PICTURE: CF, which is based in Deerfield, Ill., makes nitrogen- and phosphate-based fertilizer for farmers around the world. It has a much bigger nitrogen business.

The company sounded optimistic about 2013, saying it expects crop prices to rise. Higher income for farmers could prompt them to plant more and buy more fertilizer in the first half of the year.

SHARE ACTION: Shares of CF Industries Holdings Inc. declined $10.27, or 4.7 percent, to $208.26 in afternoon trading. The company's stock has been trending generally higher for the past few years. It had gained 22 percent over the past 12 months and peaked at a record high of $233.43 on Jan. 30. CF went public in 2005.