April 29, 2008 / 10:44 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Chile's SQM 1st-quarter profit up 51 percent

(Adds sales, operating figures, details)

SANTIAGO, April 29 (Reuters) - Chile’s Soquimich (SQM), a top fertilizer exporter and the world’s largest producer of lithium and iodine, said on Tuesday its first quarter net profit rose 51 percent year on year, boosted by higher world prices for fertilizer.

The Santiago-based company SQM_pb.SN SQMa.SN SQM.N said net profit for the period increased to $64.78 million from $42.96 million the prior year, while sales jumped 37.6 percent to $326.3 million.

“The significant growth in net income has been driven by the favorable pricing scenario in world fertilizer markets,” the company said in a statement.

Revenue from fertilizers surged 66 percent to $170 million, accounting for over half of company sales. The company said the increase had been driven by higher prices on tight global supplies of potassium-based fertilizers.

Iodine derivative revenue increased 15.8 percent to $60 million on higher volumes, while lithium sales fell 10 percent to $40 million amid growing competition from Chinese producers.

Iodine is used in X-ray contrast media, biocides, and pharmaceuticals. Lithium is used in chemical industries and for the production of lithium batteries, among other uses.

SQM is controlled by Chile’s Julio Ponce and Norway’s Yara International ASA YAR.OL, which hold the majority of voting shares, and Canada’s Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc POT.TO.

First quarter consolidated operating income rose 46.6 percent to $86 million. (Reporting by Manuel Farias; Writing by Lisa Yulkowski; editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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