Po­tash mar­ket’s re­cov­ery boosts Is­rael Chem­i­cals’ rev­enue, profit

Jerusalem Post - - BUSINESS & FINANCE -

Is­rael Chem­i­cals Ltd. (ICL) re­ported on Wed­nes­day higher rev­enue and profit in the fourth quar­ter, beat­ing ex­pec­ta­tions, as po­tash prices rose and ex­penses fell at the world’s sixth-largest pro­ducer of the fer­til­izer in­gre­di­ent.

ICL, which also pro­duces about a third of the world’s bromine, said it earned $142 mil­lion ex­clud­ing one-time items in the fourth quar­ter, com­pared with $114m. a year ear­lier.

An­a­lysts had fore­cast ICL to earn $100m., ac­cord­ing to Thom­son Reuters I/B/E/S.

Rev­enue grew 2% to $1.36 bil­lion.

ICL said its as­set sales in 2017 helped re­duced debt, en­hanced fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity and gen­er­ated re­sources for fu­ture growth.

“Look­ing for­ward, ICL will fo­cus on its core busi­ness, aim­ing to fur­ther strengthen the com­pet­i­tive­ness of its ex­ist­ing min­eral as­sets while ex­pand­ing our spe­cialty busi­ness,” ICL chair­man Jo­hanan Locker said.

Amid healthy de­mand, ICL cited data show­ing po­tash prices in the quar­ter were around $280 per ton in Brazil, 19% above the fourth quar­ter of 2016.

In 2017, China im­ported 7.5 mil­lion tons of po­tash, up 10.5% from 2016.

Still, ICL’s po­tash pro­duc­tion fell to 4.77 mil­lion tons in 2017 from 5.28 mil­lion tons in 2016, while po­tash sales dipped to 5.04 mil­lion tons from 5.17 mil­lion tons. ICL said the phos­phate mar­ket had hit bot­tom in 2017 and prices had be­gun to rise, while global de­mand for mag­ne­sium re­mained con­strained and prices were still un­der pres­sure in China, Brazil and Europe.

Nutrien Ltd. said this month its Po­tash Cor­po­ra­tion of Saskatchewan unit had sold its 13.77% stake in ICL, re­mov­ing a ma­jor over­hang for ICL’s New York-listed shares, which fell 1.7% in 2017 and are 2% lower so far in 2018.

ICL, which has ex­clu­sive rights in Is­rael to mine min­er­als from the Dead Sea, said it would pay a fourth-quar­ter div­i­dend of $70m., or 5.4 cents a share, up from $57m. in the third quar­ter.

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