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February 26, 2009

Indonesia's agri giant posts 27% decline in Q4 profit

Indonesia's largest listed plantation firm, PT Astra Agro Lestari Tbk, suffered a 27.1 percent fall in fourth-quarter net profit from a year ago as crude palm oil (CPO) prices tumbled.

Astra Agro's net profit for the October-December period fell to 501 billion rupiah ($42 million), from 687.6 billion rupiah a year ago, according to Reuters' calculations based on published full-year and nine-month results.

The company -- which accounts for about 5 percent of total crude palm oil production in Indonesia, the world's top producer of the commodity -- said previously that it expected its CPO output to rise to 990,000 tonnes in 2009, from 981,538 tonnes in 2008.

The firm benefited from soaring palm oil prices earlier last year before fears of a global recession triggered a sharp decline in commodity prices.

The benchmark Malaysian palm futures contract has lost about two thirds of its value since hitting an all-time high of 4,486 ringgit on March 4, 2008.

The company, majority owned by Indonesia's largest automotive distributor, PT Astra International Tbk, reported a full-year net profit of 2.631 trillion rupiah on sales of 8.161 trillion rupiah in 2008, beating the Reuters Estimates forecasts of 2.5 trillion rupiah and 8.09 trillion rupiah respectively.

The company is forecast to report a net profit of 1.48 trillion rupiah in 2009, on revenue of 5.82 trillion rupiah, according to Reuters Estimates.

Astra Agro said in January its sales volume rose 13.2 percent in 2008, while the average CPO prices it received rose 19 percent to 7,134 rupiah per kg.

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