Case Detail

Case Summary

CF Industries

Case Number: 5-316-500, Year Published: 2016

HBS Number: KEL966

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Authors: Meghan Busse

Key Concepts

Competitive Strategy, General Management, Manufacturing


CF Industries' products—nitrogen fertilizers—are a crucial input to making agriculture productive enough to feed the world. However, its products are undifferentiated commodities. Throughout parts of its history, CF has struggled to be consistently profitable, yet over the last decade it has been very profitable. The case provides an opportunity to examine how CF manages to create value and capture it as profits despite being in a commodity business.

Learning Objectives

After reading and analyzing the case, students will be able to: apply the value creation and capture framework to understand how to increase customer benefits and sales while minimizing production costs; identify assets that are key to profitability and difficult for competitors to replicate; and understand how economic context contributes to profitability.

Number of Pages: 23

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Strategy

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: United States

Industry: Fertilizers

Organization Name: CF Industries

Year of Case: 2014