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TEL AVIV, May 13 (Reuters) - Israel Chemicals (ICL) posted a six percent rise in first quarter net profit, exceeding expectations on strong demand for fertilisers in China.
ICL, the world's sixth-largest producer of potash, said on Monday its net profit in the quarter rose to $305 million from $289 million a year earlier. Revenue grew nine percent to $1.64 billion. ICL was forecast to earn $286 million on revenue of $1.61 billion, according to a Reuters poll.
Both potash and phosphate fertiliser businesses showed strong growth, with increasing volumes compensating for lower prices, ICL said. About half of its revenue for the quarter derived from products manufactured outside of Israel.
Last month Canada's Potash Corp , one of the world's largest potash producers, said it was abandoning efforts to take over ICL because of strong opposition in Israel.
Potash Corp holds a 14 percent stake in ICL, which is controlled by conglomerate Israel Corp.
ICL sold in the quarter 1.309 million tonnes of potash, a nutrient that improves yields of corn, rice, palm and other crops. This is an increase of 42 percent from the same quarter of 2012 due primarily to strong shipments to China, ICL said.
During the first quarter, ICL signed a number of significant supply agreements with customers in India and China. Also, Brazil opened 2013 with strong demand for fertilisers.
"The quantity of its fertiliser imports is expected to continue rising during the second and third quarters as the Brazilian market prepares for the peak of its fertilising season, which begins in September," ICL said.
The company set a dividend of $213 million or 16.7 cents a share, up from 11.6 cents in the fourth quarter.