By Jagoda Darlak and Tristan Chabba
(Reuters) - Germany's K+S became the latest potash producer to miss earnings forecasts on Thursday as prices of the mineral ease from their peak earlier this year, though it was still on track to deliver its highest ever annual results.
"We see potash prices normalizing, but still at a very high level," CEO Burkhard Lohr said.
The salt and potash miner reported a more than five-fold increase in its third-quarter core earnings (EBITDA) to 633 million euros ($636 million), below analysts' forecast of 708.5 million in a poll by Vara Research.
Rivals such as Nutrien, CF Industries and Mosaic also posted lower-than-expected quarterly profits earlier this month.
K+S, which makes potash fertilisers and salts for cooking, animal feed and de-icing roads, said it expected full-year EBITDA to be around 2.4 billion euros, exceeding its earlier 2008 record by almost a billion.
In August, the group had forecast core earnings between 2.3 billion and 2.6 billion euros, including possible gas bottlenecks.
Lohr said the group no longer expected any negative effects from the energy crisis in 2022, and thus the new outlook did not account for any gas levy or shortage in the fourth quarter.
He added the group had already hedged 90% of its gas requirements for the year, and would not need to make use of Germany's gas price cap.
The German government in October announced a plan to implement a gas price cap at 7 cents per kWh from the start of next year until the end of April 2024 to encourage companies to stay in the country and preserve jobs.
K+S's third-quarter revenue nearly doubled to 1.47 billion euros from a year earlier.
It expects its free cash flow to reach 1.2 billion euros this year, at the top end of its previous forecast range.
($1 = 0.9957 euros)
(Reporting by Jagoda Darlak and Tristan Chabba; editing by Milla Nissi)