Fertilizers and minerals company Israel Chemicals (TASE: ICL: NYSE: ICL), controlled by Idan Ofer's Israel Corporation (TASE: ILCO), finished the fourth quarter of 2018 with $1.41 billion in sales, 4% more than in the fourth quarter of 2017. Prices rose throughout ICL's value chain, which offset the negative effect of the devaluation in the euro and the Chinese yuan against the dollar.
Quarterly operating profit was down 12% to $166 million, but adjusted operating profit (excluding a $48 million capital gain on the sale of business) jumped 40% in comparison with the corresponding quarter in 2017.
ICL's fourth quarter net profit was $82 million, 47% less than in the corresponding quarter in 2017.
Higher prices in all its activity sectors (potash, phosphate, and bromine) boosted ICL's EBITDA to $322 million, 24% more than in the fourth quarter of 2017.
ICL ended 2018 with $5.55 billion in revenue, 3% more than in 2017. Excluding business sold, revenue growth was 8.5%, caused by higher prices, the appreciation of the euro against the dollar, and higher quantitative sales of flame retardant, special fertilizers, and milk proteins. On the other hand, lower quantitative sales of potash, phosphate commodities, and special phosphate products detracted from ICL's results.
Operating profit soared 140% to $1.5 billion in 2018 as a result of an $841 million capital gain on the sale of ICL's fire safety and oil additives business early in the year. Adjusted operating profit (excluding business sold, a decline in the value of assets, and provisions for early retirement, lawsuits, and costs of closing a site), grew 42% to $750 million in 2018.
ICL's 2018 net profit totaled $1.24 billion, compared with $364 million in 2017.
ICL announced that it would distribute a $62 million dividend, bringing its total dividends distributed to shareholders in 2018 to $236 million.
ICL president and CEO Raviv Zoller said, "We adjusted ICL's structure during the year in order to buttress our leading position in the market and bolster the company's growth, while successfully applying a strategy of preferring value over quantity in our special products business.
"Our industrial products division achieved a record profit this year, thanks to record bromine prices and higher quantitative sales of a number of products. Our potash division recorded record output at the Dead Sea site. We substantially improved the performance of our potash activity in Spain and our joint YPH venture in China, both of which are now profitable. We are continuing to focus on cost control, careful capital investments, and environmental responsibility. We also started commercial operation of our new power station in Israel this year," Zoller explained.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 6, 2019
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