Rise in asset values, turnover lift profit at Kenya's Limuru Tea

NAIROBI, March 19 Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:55am EDT

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NAIROBI, March 19 (Reuters) - Kenyan agricultural firm Limuru Tea said on Tuesday its pretax profit more than doubled last year to 147 million shillings ($1.7 million), thanks to a rise in the valuation of some of its assets and higher turnover.

The firm said its underlying assets like the tea planted on its estates nearly doubled in value to 187 million shillings after it marked them to market, adding to a 13 percent gain on turnover, which stood at 116 million shillings.

The company said the outlook for this year was dependent on stability of prices of tea and good weather.

"The dollar tea prices continue to be favourable and the first quarter crop is positive with good rains. If these conditions are sustained, 2013 should be a normal year," Limuru said in a statement.

Limuru produced 2.8 million kg of green tea last year, as well as 650.98 kg of black tea.

Its earnings per share rose to 84.86 shillings last year from 33.74 shillings previously, Limuru said.

Limuru declared a total dividend of 7.5 shillings per share, unchanged from the previous period.

Its shares were untraded by 0820 GMT as per Reuters data.

One analyst said the firm was yet to include the market value of its vast land holdings in Limuru, a rural area near the capital Nairobi, in its books.

"If they marked the value of their land to market, the share price would sky-rocket," said Aly Khan Satchu, an independent trader and analyst.

($1 = 85.6500 Kenyan shillings) (Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by James Macharia and Mark Potter)

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