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TEL AVIV, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Israel Chemicals (ICL) reported a lower quarterly profit on Wednesday that missed estimates, weighed down by increased financial expenses, a higher tax rate and labour disruptions.
ICL, which has exclusive permits to extract minerals from the Dead Sea, earned an adjusted $108 million in the fourth quarter, down from $195 million a year earlier.
Sales slipped 1 percent to $1.4 billion due to the impact of exchange rate changes totalling $45 million and a decline in quantities sold. This was partly offset by an increase in selling prices.
As a result of labour interruptions at its Dead Sea operations in the quarter, the company's sales were unfavourably impacted by about $60 million. Cost cutting measures saved $100 million in 2014.
ICL, one of the three largest suppliers of the crop nutrient potash to China, India and Europe, was forecast to record net profit of $149.3 million on revenue of $1.4 billion shekels, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.
The company estimated that a trend of rising exports to China is expected to continue in 2015 due to an increase in consumption and logistics problems of local producers.
ICL plans to expand abroad in coming quarters as the investment environment in Israel deteriorates in the wake of a government plan to sharply increase taxes on mining activities.
The plan would levy a progressive tax of 25 percent after mining companies reach an annual return on investment of 14 percent, rising to 42 percent for a return above 20 percent. (Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Steven Scheer)