Soc. Quimica & Minera de Chile SA, the country’s biggest fertilizer producer, said first-quarter profit rose 35 percent as rising iodine prices boosted revenue.
Net income climbed to $150 million from $111 million a year ago, according to data posted today on the website of Chile’s securities regulator. Sales from iodine operations jumped 53 percent to $144 million while potash sales rose 6.6 percent.
Prices of iodine rose 10 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months on growing demand for its use in X-ray equipment and pharmaceutical products, SQM said in an accompanying statement. The company controlled by billionaire Julio Ponce produces iodine, lithium and potash from salt flats in Chile’s Atacama Desert.
“Iodine and lithium markets continue to be strong and in line with expectations in both demand and pricing,” Chief Executive Officer Patricio Contesse said in an e-mailed statement. “Fertilizer market volumes followed the trend we saw during the fourth quarter of 2011 and in recent weeks we have started seeing positive indications.”
Sales at SQM’s lithium unit rose 12 percent to $47.5 million from a year earlier as prices rose 16 percent during the quarter, the company said.
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