Zim fails to sink Israel Corp

Boosted by strong results from Israel Chemicals, third quarter net profit rose 47% to $156 million.

Israel Corporation (TASE: ILCO) published revenue and profit growth for the third quarter of 2011, as strong results by Israel Chemicals Ltd. (TASE: ICL) beat dismal results by Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd.. Revenue rose 21% to $3.08 billion for the third quarter from $2.54 billion for the corresponding quarter, and net profit rose to $370 million ($21.72 per share) from $226 million. Net profit attributable to majority shareholders - the Ofer family - rose 47% to $156 million for the third quarter from $106 million for the corresponding quarter.

Wholly-owned subsidiary Zim posted a net loss of $66 million for the third quarter, compared with a net profit of $37 million for the corresponding quarter, while revenue fell 8% revenue growth to $973 billion from $1.05 billion. Zim attributed the decline to a 12% drop in the average shipping price to $1,310 per container during the third quarter from $1,496 per container during the corresponding quarter, which more than offset an increase in shipping to 646,000 containers from 596,000 containers

Israel Corp. stated, "In view of the economic instability in the West in general, and the serious condition of the global shipping industry in particular, and in view of Zim's financial results, Zim has acceded to Israel Corp's request, and announced that it will prepare new long-term business plan that will include changes in its capital structure and other issues. The details of the plan have not yet been finalized."

Zim CEO Rafi Danieli told "Globes", "It is no secret that the global economy is in poor shape, which has a direct impact on shipping companies. There is a surplus of supply and lack of demand, due to the economy, which is why we are seeing a drop in prices. However, we are also seeing high fuel prices. The combined impact has caused very severe pressure on the shipping industry, and all shipping companies are losing money. The industry is going through hard times."

Israel Chemicals' contribution to Israel Corp's net profit rose to $229 million for the third quarter from $128 million for the corresponding quarter. The contribution from IC Power (which includes Latin American power provider Inkia Energy Inc.) rose to $13 million from $11 million, and Tower Semiconductor Ltd's (Nasdaq: TSEM; TASE: TSEM) contribution doubled to $2 million from $1 million. Israel Corp's share in the net loss of Oil Refineries Ltd. (TASE:ORL) was halved to $4 million for the third quarter from $8 million for the corresponding quarter, while electric car venture Better Place LLC cost Israel Corp. $17 million in the third quarter from $10 million corresponding quarter, and the loss from the joint Chinese car making venture, Chery-Quantum LLC rose to $7 million from $3 million.

Israel Corp. CEO Nir Gilad told "Globes", "We cannot make forecasts for 2012. Our working assumption is that the situation will stabilize in the shipping industry, including at Zim."

"Globes": What about the cost of the salt harvesting at the Dead Sea by Israel Chemicals?

"There are economies of scale because the Israeli government finally decided on the structure of the solution to the problems at the Dead Sea. We're in talks with the government, and we hope that they will end in an agreement, but the most important thing is that there is agreement on the solutions, which was lacking for many years."

Israel Corp's share price fell 1% in morning trading to NIS 2,199, giving a market cap of NIS 17 billion.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 24, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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