Wilmar International posts 49% jump in Q1 earnings

Workers collect palm oil fruits inside a palm oil factory in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, in this February 18, 2014 file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Workers collect palm oil fruits inside a palm oil factory in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, in this February 18, 2014 file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - A stronger performance from its oilseeds and grains segment as well as higher contributions from its associates boosted first-quarter earnings for commodities firm Wilmar International.

Net profit for the three months ended March 31 jumped 49.1 per cent to US$241.2 million (S$333 million), over the US$161.8 million from the same period a year ago.

Revenue declined 8 per cent to US$9.41 billion. This was due to lower commodity prices, said Wilmar in a statement on Thursday.

The group's oilseeds and grains segment saw pre-tax profit swell 1,120.5 per cent to US$166.1 million, well over the US$13.6 million previously.

Its tropical oils and sugar segments, however, logged weaker performances, amid "tougher operating conditions in their respective markets", said the group.

Pre-tax profit for the tropical oils segment dropped 44 per cent drop to US$152.1 million, while the sugar segment continued on a downtrend with a pre-tax loss of US$68 million, more than the US$54 million pre-tax loss previously.

Contributions from associates for the quarter totalled US$39.2 million, up from the US$16.2 million last year, thanks to higher input from those in India and China.

Earnings per share rose to 3.8 US cents for the quarter, up from 2.5 US cents previously.

Net asset value per share stood at 241.9 US cents as at March 31, down from the 242.3 US cents as at Dec 31 last year.

Chairman and chief executive Kuok Khoon Hong said: "Although operating conditions for tropical oils will remain challenging, we believe we will be able to overcome the current difficult environment, especially if the Indonesian government implements its proposed support policy for biodiesel."

The group, he added, is "cautiously optimistic" that its second-quarter performance will be satisfactory.

Wilmar shares closed two cents up at $3.19 on Thursday.