* Group net profit rises slightly to $648 mln
* Volumes, processing margins offset lower crop prices
* Says capex falls to $592 mln in targeted investments
PARIS, March 26 (Reuters) - Global trading group Louis Dreyfus Commodities B.V. reported a rise in full-year profit on Thursday as increased volumes and healthy processing margins helped offset lower market prices.
Louis Dreyfus is one of the “ABCD” quartet of companies -alongside Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill - that dominates agricultural commodity trading.
The 164-year-old family-owned firm is in the midst of a corporate shake-up and has been searching since last year for a new chief executive to lead the trading house into a potential share listing or merger deal. It did not comment on the CEO search in its results statement.
Net income, group share, reached $648 million last year, up from $640 million in 2013, while net sales rose to $64.7 billion from $63.6 billion, supported by a 4 percent increase in shipped volumes to 80 million tonnes, the company said.
The group’s Value Chain division, comprising integrated activities in oilseeds, grains, juice, fertilisers, livestock feed and stock, posted a 19 percent rise in its operating result as ample crop supply benefited processing activities, Louis Dreyfus said.
One exception was the juice unit, which suffered from lower consumption and high inventory levels in global juice markets.
ADM and Cargill have also pointed in their most recent financial results to a margin boost from more abundant, cheaper supplies of grain.
Louis Dreyfus’ Merchandizing division, grouping cotton, sugar, coffee, rice, dairy, metals and finance businesses with more of a trading focus, saw its operating result fall 13 percent as it faced declining commodity prices and large inventory levels.
The group was also affected by instability last year in Ukraine and Russia, two leading grain producers and exporters, although the impact was limited, it said.
Louis Dreyfus’ capital investment last year was $592 million, down from $689 million in 2013, with Chief Financial Officer and acting CEO Claude Ehlinger citing a “granular approach - focused primarily on logistics”. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by James Regan)
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