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Israel Chemicals profit drops, sees potash demand recovering in 2014

JERUSALEM, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Israel Chemicals (ICL) reported lower fourth-quarter net profit and said the recovery of potash demand seen in 2013 was continuing in 2014.

In preliminary unaudited results, ICL - the world's sixth-largest producer of potash - said on Wednesday it earned $119 million in the October-December period, compared with $208 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 9 percent to $1.42 billion.

Excluding an early retirement programme at one of its plants and a special tax payment, ICL said quarterly profit fell 21 percent to $195 million.

ICL was forecast to record net income of $168 million on revenue of $1.32 billion, according to a Reuters poll.

The company said it paid a one-time tax expense of $118 million for the release of $1.07 billion in trapped earnings, profit of multinationals after they had been provided with tax exemptions as incentive for capital investments in Israel.

In 2013, ICL said it sold 5.04 million tonnes of potash, compared with 4.63 million in 2012.

"The increased volume of sales compensated for lower prices. The recovery in demand continued into 2014," ICL said.

ICL, which said it continues to prepare to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, will pay a special one-time dividend of $500 million in March.

Its Tel Aviv-listed shares were up 0.4 percent in morning trade.