Israel Chemicals Sales Slump Due to Strike at Two Plants in the South

The Ticker: TowerJazz Q1 profit rises more than forecast; Lumenis earnings up 10.6% in first quarter; TASE stocks up, and Alon Blue Square jumps on talks over sale of its Mega stores.

Reuters

Israel Chemicals sales slump due to strike at two plants in the south

Israel Chemicals reported on Wednesday that its $1.4 billion in sales in the first quarter of the year had slumped compared to 1st quarter 2014, due to strikes at plants in the south. It had 1st quarter net income of $217 million, compared to $131 in the quarter a year earlier, though on an adjusted basis, the results were roughly the same. A $154 million after-tax gain from divestitures more than compensated for the strike’s $76 million impact on net income, the company said, adding that it would pay a first quarter dividend of $151 million. Earlier this month, ICL reported that it would close a production line that produces a flame-retardant because the strike had led to customers moving to alternate suppliers. The strike at two plants in the south came in reaction to an efficiency plan that includes cutting 140 of 900 jobs at its bromine unit and 140 of 1,250 at its potash-producing Dead Sea Works. (TheMarker and Reuters)

TowerJazz Q1 profit rises more than forecast

Chipmaker TowerJazz beat estimates for first-quarter net profit thanks to revenue from its joint venture in Japan with Panasonic Corp, as well as growing market share among its largest customers. It earned 78 cents per share excluding one-time items, compared with 40 cents a year earlier, as revenue grew 71% to $226 million. TowerJazz was forecast to earn 49 cents a share excluding one-off items on revenue of $225 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. “We should now have a sustainable GAAP net profit going forward,” Chief Executive Russell Ellwanger told Reuters on Wednesday. Its shares on Nasdaq have doubled in the past year, hitting a high of $18.29 in March and closing at $16.40 on Tuesday. It is also traded in Tel Aviv, where its shares closed down a day later, by 2.5% on Wednesday. The maker of chips for smartphones, battery chargers, AC/DC adapters and image sensors has a 51% stake in its new joint venture, to which Panasonic transferred three plants for the production of chips for cars and other products. (Reuters)

Lumenis earnings up 10.6% in first quarter

Lumenis, which specializes in laser-based surgical equipment, announced Tuesday that it had first quarter revenues of $68.5 million, an increase of 4.1% over the comparable 2014 quarter and up 10.6% after adjusting for currency fluctuations. The company also reported adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $6 million, or 8.7% of revenues, up 23.2% from the comparable quarter last year. When the strength of the dollar is offset, that’s an increase of 10.6% over the first quarter of 2014. Sales in the first quarter increased by 4.1% over the comparable quarter last year to $68.5 million. The Yokneam-based company, shares of which are traded on the Nasdaq exchange, reported 20.7% growth in revenues from aesthetic product sales and a 8.9% increase in surgical product sales revenue, while sale of eye-surgery products declined. (Yoram Gabison)

TASE stocks up, and Alon Blue Square jumps on talks over sale of its Mega stores

Stocks traded generally higher on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The Tel Aviv-25 index rose 1.24% to 1,659.22 points while the Tel Aviv-100 index was up by an even 1% to 1,438.95. Natural gas and real estate shares led the surge. Trading volume on the day was 1.23 billion shekels ($319 million). Among the stocks of note was Alon Blue Square Israel, which gained 11.7% on reports of contacts to buy the company’s Mega supermarkets to a group of investors headed by Jacob Gelbard. The jump in the energy sector notably included the partners in the Tamar offshore natural gas exploration site, as it appears that the stakeholders in Tamar will get sweetened terms from the Israeli government, including more liberal export quotas for the gas. Losers included EZchip Semiconductor of Yokneam, which saw its shares plummet by 26% for the day following the release of its latest financial reports. The company noted in its results, that Cisco, which has been EZchip’s largest processor customer, has decided to develop its own new generation of processors rather than buying EZchip’s NPS version. (Eran Azran)