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Israel Chemicals 4Q Profit Drops as Sales Miss Estimates

March 13 (Bloomberg) -- Israel Chemicals Ltd.’s fourth-quarter profit slumped 43 percent as the company that extracts minerals from the Dead Sea to make potash and fertilizers posted lower-than-expected sales.

Quarterly net income for the Tel Aviv-based company decreased to $210 million from $370 million a year earlier as revenue fell 22 percent to $1.34 billion, according to an emailed statement. Sales missed the $1.45 billion average estimate of nine analysts compiled by Bloomberg. The shares slipped 0.2 percent to 47.61 shekels, the lowest in a week, at the close in Tel Aviv. The benchmark TA-25 Index fell 0.1 percent.

“We expected a weak quarter and the results were even weaker than expected,” Gilad Alper, a senior analyst at Excellence Nessuah Investment House Ltd. in Ramat Gan, Israel, said today by phone. “The main reason for the weakness was the late signing of the contracts with India and China which led to no deliveries.”

Export volumes of fertilizer producers have slumped in the past year after China and India held off on signing new sales contracts. Israel Chemicals signed contracts with Indian buyers to supply 820,000 metric tons of potash this year, according to today’s statement. The company said in January it signed an agreement with China to supply 660,000 metric tons of potash in first half of this year as part of a 3.3 million-ton multiyear deal. Asia accounted for about 30 percent sales in 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. held talks in October with the Israeli government about increasing its stake in Israel Chemicals from 13.84 percent. Israel Chemicals’ full-year sales fell six percent to $6.67 billion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shoshanna Solomon in Tel Aviv at ssolomon22@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Maedler at cmaedler@bloomberg.net

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