Noble Group's first quarter net profit slides 62% to $51.2 million

The challenging operating environment impacted profit margins for commodities giant Noble Group.

Quarterly net profit plummeted to US$41.3 million (S$51.2 million) for the three months ending March 31, down 62 per cent from the same period last year.

This was largely due to the US$255 million dip in revenue for the quarter to US$22.6 billion.

The Hong Kong-based company announced this on the Singapore Exchange after markets closed today.

Noble Group has its business in three key areas: energy, agriculture and metals, minerals and ores (MMO).

Its energy business is the biggest arm of Noble Group and reported a 10 per cent drop in quarterly revenue to US$14.6 billion, compared to the first quarter last year.

First quarter revenue from its agriculture business fell 12 per cent for the quarter whereas its MMO arm reported a 60 per cent jump revenue to US$4.75 billion for the same period.

In a separate statement by Noble Group, it said that the company has been "shedding some businesses that lacked critical mass".

It will also re-balance the firm "towards an asset light business model which will be best suited to an environment which sees many of the smallers producers of commodities starved of capital".

Chief executive Yusuf Alireza said: "In a difficult market environment, our efforts to control costs and focus on core business competencies are starting to have an impact.

"Noble continues to build out its sugar milling capacity in line with earlier guidance whilel we expect our agricultural segment to gain momentum as we move into the main harvest periods."

Earnings per share fell to 0.53 US cent, down from 1.62 cents over the same period last year.

Net asset value per share, however, rose by two US cents to 81 US cents from Dec 31 last year.

Its share price closed down two cents to $1.115 on the Singapore Exchange.