Luzhou Bio-Chem's loss widens to $8.8 million

SINGAPORE - Losses at China-based Luzhou Bio-Chem Technology widened to 42.8 million yuan (S$8.8 million) from 15.2 million yuan previously.

This came on the back of a 24.1 per cent drop in first quarter net profit to 605.1 million yuan, due mainly to decreases in selling prices of its corn refining products, which decreased by 8.2 per cent.

The decreases were due mainly to weak export and domestic market demand.

Sales volume for the corn refining segment increased from 242,000 tonnes to 249,000 tonnes, due mainly to the increase in the sales volumes of corn sweeteners of about 8.5 per cent.

This rise was partially mitigated by falls in the sales volumes of corn starch and by-products of some 26.5 per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively.

Gross profit margin halved to 3.7 per cent compared to 7.2 per cent in the same period last year.

Loss per share for the three months to March 31 worsened to 10.8 fen from 3.8 fen previously while net asset value per share shrank to 93.2 fen compared to 104 fen as at Dec 31.

On its prospects, Luzhou said while the cost of raw corn materials have been trending downward, it continues to face the downward pressure on the selling prices of its corn sweetener products due to the fall in the prices of cane sugar and the oversupply of corn sweetener products in the domestic market.

"We expect sales volume and revenue to remain poor due to the weak export and domestic demand," it warned.

"As the export and domestic markets remain to be largely affected by the global economic conditions, the group remains cautious in its outlook due to the unfavourable selling prices that will continue to affect our gross and net profit margins."