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TEL AVIV, May 18 (Reuters) - Israel Chemicals (ICL) reported lower quarterly profit that missed estimates on Wednesday, weighed down by lower fertiliser sales and higher financing expenses.
ICL, which has exclusive permits to extract minerals from the Dead Sea, earned 7 cents per diluted share excluding one-time items in the first quarter, down from 15 cents a year earlier. Quarterly sales fell to $1.27 billion from $1.4 billion.
ICL, one of the three largest suppliers of the crop nutrient potash to China, India and Europe, was forecast to record adjusted EPS of 9 cents on sales of $1.3 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Crop commodities prices declined further during the first months of 2016, weighing heavily on farmers' decisions to take positions on fertiliser volumes, ICL said.
"Our board has adjusted the company's dividend policy to strengthen ICL's financial position amid the volatile situation we are facing in the agricultural commodities market," said Stefan Borgas, ICL's chief executive.
For 2016 and 2017, ICL's dividend payout ratio will comprise up to 50 percent of its adjusted annual net income, compared a prior policy of up to 70 percent.
ICL said it will pay a dividend of 3 cents a share, or a total of $35 million, for the quarter. (Reporting by Tova Cohen, Editing by Ari Rabinovitch)