SINGAPORE May 15 Commodities trader Noble Group
Ltd said on Thursday its net profit in the quarter
ended March 31 more than tripled, with strong performance in the
metals and energy segments more than offsetting the loss in its
The Hong Kong-based company reported a net profit of $152.3
million, up from $41.3 million for the same period a year
earlier, partly due to a sharp decline in post-tax loss from
agricultural operations held for sale.
Revenue for the quarter fell 7 percent to $18.0 billion,
though operating income rose 30 percent, Noble said in a
Noble's agriculture business posted an operating loss of $42
million, as weak soybean crushing margins in China offset solid
performance in South America.
The soft commodities business performed well, though coffee
was impacted by extreme volatility in prices, the company said.
COFCO Corp, China's largest grain trader, has agreed to pay
$1.5 billion for a majority stake in Noble's agribusiness. The
deal would add volume to Noble's trading business via COFCO and
allow it to reduce debt.
The deal is pending regulatory and shareholder approvals.
Noble's share price has jumped over 20 percent since early
March. The shares fell 1.2 percent on Thursday to end at S$1.225
before the results were released.
The metals, minerals and ores business recorded strong
performance, boosted by all-time high physical premium for
aluminium, Noble said. Operating income from supply chains in
the division more than quadrupled to $70 million.
Noble, which counts China's sovereign wealth fund - China
Investment Corp - as one of its key shareholders, has
been growing its metals, minerals and ores business aggressively
in recent years.
The energy segment posted an all-time high operating income
of $437 million, up 19 percent on the year, as margins improved,
(Reporting by Rujun Shen; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)