Noble Q3 profit sinks 84 per cent to US$24.7m on further losses from associates

Noble Group's net profit was down 84 per cent year-on-year.
Noble Group's net profit was down 84 per cent year-on-year. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Noble Group's net profit sank as losses at its joint ventures continued to widen.

But the commodity firm highlighted the positives it made in strengthening its balance sheet in its latest quarterly results released on Thursday (Nov 12).

In the three months to Sept 30, Noble's net profit was down 84 per cent year-on-year to US$24.7 million (S$35 million). Turnover also fell 19.8 per cent to US$18.7 billion.

The tepid results were partly due to a US$65.7 million loss - 225.24 per cent higher than a year ago - incurred via its joint ventures and associates, amid the persistently commodity prices.

"The latest period has continued to be impacted by our joint ventures and associates, particularly Noble Agri, as 2015 has seen a further sharp decline in sugar and ethanol prices," Noble said when announcing its third quarter results on Thursday.

Within its core businesses, the mining and metals segment was particularly impacted, and its loss widened by 11 per cent to US$72.1 million.

But there were plenty of positive takeaways to be had from the third quarter performance, Noble said.

"Our year-end target of positive cash flow has been achieved early with net cash flow generated by operations in the three months ended Sept 30 of US$318 million, and net debt fell by US$155 million in the same period."

Noble also saw improved business volume, with its tonnage up 43 per cent year-on-year to a record 73 million tonnes.

Chief executive Yusuf Alireza said the company has progressed well in its transition to become to a more profitable business.

"Over the last nine months, profits from our core businesses, from which we exclude associates but include the profits of supply chain assets, were US$403 million, a credible performance during our transition phase.

"Better profits going forward from our core businesses will be the result of us growing the top line, expanding our operating margins and constantly adjusting our capital to ensure that we have the optimum mix."

In recent months, the company has scaled back its resources in the metals business to focus more on the still profitable energy segment, while cutting around 15 per cent of its headcount in a bid to save costs.

Shares of Noble dropped 1.5 cents or 2.91 per cent to 50 cents.