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fertilizer isnt budging from top spot

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    Fertilizer Group Isn't Budging From Top Spot
    February 20, 2008: 08:05 PM EST

    Feb. 21, 2008 (Investor's Business Daily delivered by Newstex) --

    Normally, market leaders get turned under when a rally crumbles into a correction. New leadership rotates in, eventually.

    Tell that to the fertilizer makers. The industry slammed home a 378% gain between August 2006 and December 2007. It has held at or near the top industry group slot since August, despite a sharp market downturn.

    More than half the fertilizer stocks still have EPS Ratings above 90. All but two of the 13 stocks have Relative Price Strength Ratings above 94.

    The success owes in large part to new demand created when federal regulations mandated refiners to blend more ethanol with gasoline.

    That forced the price tag on a bushel of corn from below $2 in 2005 to above $5 today. Those increases, in turn, launched a competition for acreage among corn and other crops.

    In all this, fertilizer makers sit in the catbird seat.

    Leaders such as Potash POT, CF Industries Holdings (NYSE:CF) CF and Mosaic MOS helped drive the rally through 2006 and '07.

    All three pulled back amid the recent correction. All three rose to new highs. Others in the group, like Agrium AGU and Terra Industries (NYSE:TRA) TRA, are still in consolidations backed by strong earnings and sales growth, though other fundamental factors are comparatively weak.

    The fertilizer outlook is mixed. Potassium- and phosphate-based fertilizers are in tight supply, giving companies like Potash and Mosaic the upper hand.

    Companies like Agrium and CF are focused on the less scarce, natural-gas-based nitrogen products.
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