Agrochemicals giant Makhteshim-Agan Industries (TASE:MAIN) today reported certain growth in sales and operating profit, despite the crisis in Brazil, one of its big markets.

The company said quarterly net profit increased 3.6% to $14.6 million, below the amount forecast by Ilanot Batucha.

Despite the crisis in South America total sales grew 6% from the parallel quarter to $217.6 million, MAI reported, above Ilanot Batucha's forecast.

The company's operating profit climbed 10% from the parallel quarter to $32.7 million, from $29.8 million in the second quarter of 2001. The company attributed the spurt to increasing sales, a slowdown in the erosion of prices in its sector, rising sales of new products which bring higher profit margins, the revaluation of the euro and the erosion of the shekel against the dollar.

The company's strategy involves increasing sales to North America and Europe at the expense of crisis-buffeted Latin America.

The results show the strategy is working: Second-quarter sales to Europe grew to $94 million, from $77 million in the parallel quarter, comprising 43.3% of the total sales, compared with 38.3% in the same quarter of last year.

North American sales grew 41.6% against the parallel to $25.6 million, comprising 12% of MAI's total sales.

Sakes to Latin America totaled $56.3 million, down 17% from the $67.8 million posted for the parallel period of 2001. South American sales comprised 26% of the total, versus 33% in the corresponding quarter of last year.

Cash flow significantly improved, to $62.7 million, from $41.5 million in the parallel quarter.

Yesterday Bank Hapoalim analysts estimated that MAI would end the second quarter with operating profits of $35 million, on sales of $217 million. Ilanot Batucha analyst Sophie Galper had estimated that MAI would end the quarter with revenues of $208.7 million, and an operating profit of $32.3 million. She predicted a net gain of $15.8 million.

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