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Helped by higher prices for phosphate and potash, net sales for the Mosaic Company rose by about 19 percent during the first quarter of 2018, although adjusted earnings were negatively affected by the late spring planting and other weather-related issues.

The global fertilizer company based in Plymouth said Monday that its net sales during the quarter were $1.9 billion, compared with $1.6 billion last year.

Mosaic CEO Joc O'Rourke said the company expects the positive momentum to continue because of improving market conditions and strong operational performance. In addition, O'Rourke said in a statement: "Our excellent progress on the transformational initiatives at Mosaic Fertilizantes is expected to generate substantial earnings growth in the second half of 2018."

Mosaic is one of the world's largest fertilizer companies, mining potash and phosphate and processing those minerals into crop nutrients. Its largest potash operations are in Saskatchewan; its biggest phosphate mines are in south-central Florida.

Earlier this year the company completed its acquisition of Vale Fertilizantes, the fertilizer unit of Brazilian company Vale SA. Mosaic agreed to purchase the business in December 2016 for about $2.5 billion to strengthen its presence in South America.

The company reported net earnings of $42 million, with earnings per share of 11 cents, compared with a net loss of $1 million and earnings near the break-even level in the first quarter of 2017.

Adjusted earnings per share were 20 cents, less than the average 28 cents expected by analysts.

Net sales in the phosphate segment were $866 million, up from $839 million last year. Average sales prices of $431 per ton were higher than $369 per ton a year ago, but delayed spring planting in North America and idling of one of the company's Florida plants shrunk phosphate sales volumes from 2.3 million tons to 1.9 million tons.

Potash net sales totaled $404 million for the first quarter, down from $414 million last year at this time.

Affecting that market were logistical challenges, the company said, which included a rail bottleneck in Canada as potash shipments competed with Alberta oil for train shipments.

O'Rourke said that delays in new fertilizer supply coming to market, combined with strong demand and improving farm economics, "bode well for Mosaic's future." The company raised its 2018 adjusted earnings forecast to between $1.20 and $1.60 per share, from its previous estimates of between $1 and $1.50 per share.

The company's earnings report was released after the stock market closed on Monday. Its stock traded up slightly for the day to close Monday at $27.56.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388