Strike Dents Israel Chemicals Quarterly Profit, Revenue

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Protesters demonstrate against job losses at Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL) in Dimona, May 17, 2015.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

REUTERS - Israel Chemicals (ICL) reported a smaller than expected rise in quarterly profit after a strike over job cuts sent revenue down 22 percent.

ICL, which has exclusive permits to extract minerals from the Dead Sea, said on Wednesday it earned $75 million in the second quarter, compared with $68 million a year earlier. Revenue dipped to $1.20 billion from $1.54 billion.

The company, one of the three largest suppliers of the crop nutrient potash to China, India and Europe, was expected to make a net profit of $86 million on revenue of $1.26 billion, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.

A strike protesting planned layoffs between February and May at ICL's bromine and potash plants at the Dead Sea wiped off $253 million in sales and $112 million from net profit in the second quarter, ICL said, adding that the impact was less than it had anticipated.

After the strike ended and paved the way for more than 100 employees to take early retirement, potash production was expanded and has now reached pre-strike levels. ICL expects sales to return to normal in the third quarter.

ICL, controlled by conglomerate Israel Corp, declared a dividend for the second quarter of $52.5 million.

It is currently locked in a battle with the Israeli government over a plan to tax mining companies aimed at boosting state coffers by 500 million shekels ($131 million) a year. In protest, ICL has frozen or put under review nearly $2 billion in domestic projects, while expanding activities outside Israel.

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