Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nitrogen Upgraded, Potash Target Lowered; Ununquadium Decayed (AGU, CF; TRA; POT)

To my mind one of the goals of science or investing should be enough mastery and understanding to enable prediction. The greatest example in science was probably Dmitri Mendeleev's creation of the periodic table and his insight that he should leave spaces for elements not yet discovered.
His prediction of the properties of gallium, germanium and scandium contrasts with pseudo-science in that it is testable.

If you ever want to piss an economist off, tell them that just because they use a tool of science (mathematics), that alone doesn't make economics a science. Science is falsifiable. Mendeleev had a swing-and-a-miss on the atomic weight of tellurium, the prediction was falsified, showing that this is a true science.
Ununquadium is element 114, discovered in 1998. We're now up to 118, ununoctium, with a gap at 117. The prediction of the properties of the undiscovered element includes a half-life of 3 nanoseconds.

This ramble was triggered by a discussion last night on alternatives to gallium (in CIGS) and tellurium in CdTe thin films. It was the first time I realized an argument could be made that Mendeleev is the father of thin-film solar. Continuing our trip through the periodic table, on to the nitrogen story, from Notable Calls:

Nitrogen Expectations Reset, Upgrading AGU, CF and TRA to Buy - Citi

Citigroup is upgrading AGU, CF and TRA to Buys from Holds following the recent share price declines. Due to price volatility, their risk assessment is Speculative. While they lowered '09 estimates stand below consensus, which the market already views as too high, valuation on all three stocks seems attractive. Firm believes the majority of the fertilizer and corn price declines may be behind us and continue to prefer Top-Pick POT due to production discipline in potash.

Deep Recession Scenarios – While not base-case, Citi estimates that the '09 global grain stocks-to-use ratio could rise to 18.4% from 17.0% if corn use in ethanol remains flat YoY and could climb to 19.0% if feed demand also plateaus.

Stocks Discount $2.75 Corn – Revised '09 fertilizer price forecasts imply that the average retail cost to a US corn farmer would total $0.98 per bushel of corn grown, a historically high level, while the equities discount fertilizer cost falling to roughly $0.60/bu, which would be more consistent with a $2.75/bu corn price....MORE
Here's Potash from BloggingStocks:

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan slapped with a price-target cut

Fertilizer firm Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT) was hit with a price-target cut from analysts at UBS today. The brokerage firm slashed its target price from $150 to $130, but reiterated its Buy rating on the stock. It's been a schizophrenic day for the company, brokerage-wise; the late-breaking note from UBS effectively dashed the upward momentum POT gained this morning when Dundee upgraded the North American fertilizer sector to Overweight.

In fact, "schizophrenic" more or less sums up analyst activity on POT during the past several weeks....MORE
A half-life of three nanoseconds brings new meaning to the phrase "Gotta go".