Israel Chemicals Gains as Potash Volume Jump Trumps Lower Prices

Feb 12, 2014 10:29 am ET

Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Israel Chemicals Ltd. gained in Tel Aviv after the fertilizer maker reported an increase in potash sales volumes and as it prepares to sell shares in New York.

The Dead Sea minerals harvester’s shares advanced as much as 2.6 percent before closing 0.5 percent higher at 29.86 shekels. The benchmark TA-25 Index was little changed at 1,309.75. The company said fourth-quarter profit fell 43 percent to $119 million in early publication of results.

Potash sales rose to $465 million from $377 million in the same period a year earlier, as ICL exported 1.25 million tons of the fertilizer in the quarter. Prices in the first half of 2013 declined to about $400 a ton, $70 below 2012 levels, the company said in a statement today. The volume recovery compensated for lower prices and higher demand continues in 2014, according to the statement. The company said it’s moving ahead with plans to sell shares on the New York Stock Exchange this year.

“Potash volumes in the quarter surprised on the upside giving some hope that 2014 will be a stronger year,” Gilad Alper, a senior analyst at the Ramat Gan, Israel-based Excellence Nessuah Brokerage Ltd., said by phone today. The early publication of the company’s results brings its reporting into line with practices of foreign companies ahead of the U.S. listing, he said.

Israel Chemicals shares have been the worst performers on the benchmark gauge in the past 12 months after Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. scrapped a proposed takeover in April.

A dispute between Russia and Belarus, sparked by OAO Uralkali’s withdrawal last year from a marketing partnership that raised price war concerns, roiled the $20 billion market for the soil nutrient.

The stock has also been battered by the prospect of higher royalty payments after a government-appointed committee began a review of natural resources policies. The company is scheduled to report its full-year and quarterly financial results in March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

--Editors: Robert Lakin, Matthew Brown