Agrium Inc. Is Still a Great Option for Your Portfolio

Agrium Inc. (TSX:AGU)(NYSE:AGU) remains a great investment option as the company has reported positive fourth-quarter earnings and looks ahead to 2016.

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Agrium Inc. (TSX:AGU)(NYSE:AGU) is one of the largest distributors in the agricultural industry, serving both retail and wholesale segments.

When the company reported fourth-quarter earnings earlier this month, investors and analysts were pleasantly surprised when results turned to be much better than was initially expected.

Here’s a quick recap of those results and why they solidify the company as a good investment for any portfolio.

Q4 results were great, and 2016 looks good, too

In the most recent quarter, Agrium announced net earnings of US$200 million, or US$1.45 per share. This is a massive increase over the US$70 million, or US$0.46 per share, that was reported in the same quarter of last year. This set the stage for the company’s second-highest quarterly results ever.

Agrium also announced that for the full year free cash flow increased to US$1.2 billion in comparison to last year’s number of US$841 million. On a per-share basis, this is reflected as US$8.59 this year as compared to US$5.85 last year.

What’s particularly interesting about Agrium’s results is that these impressive numbers, including a jump in annual gross profits by 9%, came at a time when sales were down by 8%. This is thanks in part to the company’s approach of selling both nitrogen and potash across wholesale and retail channels.

Currently, the stock is trading at $113, and the stock is down by 8% year-to-date. Agrium’s dividend currently sits at $3.50 annualized with an impressive yield of 4.26%.

Agrium is forecasting another high crop year for 2016, which should support increased demand for the company’s products. Agrium announced guidance for diluted earnings to fall within the US$5.50-7.00 per-share range for 2016.

Prospects for growth

One of the most exciting parts about Agrium is the potential the company has for growth over the next few years. Agrium is already in a prime position as having the largest to-grower distribution network in the world to serve growth wherever it may spawn.

One other aspect to consider is growth of the market as a whole. As the developing world moves toward better diets, crops are needed to support those changes, which in turn will fuel further growth and revenues for Agrium.

As that market expands, Agrium will as well. Currently, nearly 30% of the market is made up of smaller, independent producers. Agrium can and should acquire those smaller players as the need arises to expand.

Agrium is a great investment, but investors should take note of the seasonality of the stock. Much of the revenues that the company will report occurs during the fall harvest time when farmers have the funds to stock up on fertilizers for the next year. That causes a surge in the stock price during those months.

With analysts calling for an outperform rating and price targets north of $115, the company represents a good opportunity for investors looking for dividends and long-term growth.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Demetris Afxentiou has no position in any stocks mentioned. Agrium Inc. is a recommendation of Stock Advisor Canada.

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