JERUSALEM, May 10 (Reuters) - Fertiliser producer Israel Chemicals (ICL) reported on Wednesday higher quarterly net income and sales, buoyed by the company’s speciality solutions division and growth in potash sales.
ICL, which produces about a third of the world’s bromine and is the sixth-largest potash producer, has sought to counter low commodities prices by diversifying into products such as advanced additives and speciality fertilisers.
The company reported a modest sequential recovery in potash prices and year over year volumes.
Revenue for the first quarter rose to $1.3 billion from $1.27 billion a year earlier and net income rose to $68 million from $66 million, in line with estimates.
ICL, which has exclusive rights in Israel to mine minerals from the Dead Sea, also declared a quarterly dividend of $34 million.
Starting last year, ICL’s dividend payout ratio will comprise up to 50 percent of its adjusted annual net income, compared with a prior policy of up to 70 percent.
Potash sales rose to 1 million tonnes from 917,00 tonnes a year earlier, even though production dropped to 1 million tonnes from 1.3 million tonnes.
Chief Executive Asher Grinbaum said the company benefited in the first quarter from “the good performance of our speciality solutions business, particularly the bromine business, which was supported by the efficient pricing strategy and by reducing costs in the business unit.”
ICL, a subsidiary of conglomerate Israel Corp, also said it filed on Wednesday an “investment treaty claim” against the government of Ethiopia, where the company has recently closed a potash project.
ICL said the Ethiopian government had imposed an “illegal tax assessment” against it and failed to provide it with infrastructure support. (Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Mark Potter)