Challenging conditions in Wilmar International's tropical oils and sugar segments dampened results in its fourth quarter.
Net profit dived 23.8 per cent to US$427.5 million (S$566 million) from the previous year, the group said yesterday after markets closed.
Revenue slid 3.3 per cent to US$11.55 billion for the three months to Dec 31, compared with the same period a year earlier. The fall was due to lower sales volume and weaker average selling prices.
Earnings per share fell to 6.8 US cents from 8.9 US cents a year earlier while net asset value per share rose 10 per cent to US$2.52. Wilmar recorded a 25.4 per cent rise in net profit to US$1.22 billion for the full year on the back of a 5.9 per cent rise in revenue to US$43.8 billion.
The firm said its tropical oils segment had lower processing margins in the downstream business in the fourth quarter, which was compounded by lower production yields and crude palm oil prices during the quarter. As a result, its division's pre-tax profit tumbled 43 per cent to US$104.9 million.
The sugar segment, meanwhile, was affected by the timing of a new marketing programme in Australia. Under this programme, a certain proportion of sugar produced from the milling operations will be sold only in the first half of 2018.
A weaker performance by the sugar merchandising, refining and consumer products businesses and an impairment loss on its Australian refinery assets resulted in the division's pre-tax profit in the quarter plunging 70 per cent to US$41.4 million.
AT A GLANCE
REVENUE: US$43.85 billion (+5.9%)
NET PROFIT: US$1.22 billion (+25.4%)
TOTAL DIVIDENDS PER SHARE: 10 cents (+53.8%)
Chairman and chief executive Kuok Khoon Hong said the group's portfolio of high-quality agribusinesses enabled the firm to do well last year. He expects its performance in 2018 to be satisfactory, barring unforeseen circumstances.
"In the meantime, we continue to work on the proposed listing of our China operations, with the internal restructuring of the operations largely completed," he said in a statement. "As the proposed listing is still at evaluation stage, shareholders are advised to exercise caution in trading their shares. There is no certainty or assurance as at the date of this announcement that the listing proposal will be carried out."
The board has proposed a final dividend of seven cents a share. Including the interim dividend of three cents paid in August last year, the total dividend for 2017 is 10 cents, compared with 6.5 cents in the 2016 financial year. Wilmar shares closed down four cents to $3.04 before the results announcement.