May 31, 2018 / 5:09 AM / in 8 months

Malaysia's Sime Darby Plantation Q3 profit slides 39 pct

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s Sime Darby Plantation Bhd said on Thursday its third quarter net profit fell 39 percent versus a year ago, on the back of lower fresh fruit bunch production and weaker commodity prices.

The world’s largest oil palm planter by land holdings reported a net profit of 249 million ringgit ($62.6 million) for the quarter ended March, versus 410 million ringgit in the same quarter last year.

Revenue stood at 3.66 billion ringgit, down from 4.35 billion ringgit last year.

Sime Darby Plantation was spun off from conglomerate Sime Darby Berhad in November last year.

The planter said in a statement released on the local stock exchange at the midday break that its quarterly performance was affected by lower fruit production, particularly in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Lower average crude palm oil (CPO) prices and palm kernel prices also weighed on earnings, it said.

The company said the drop in profit was partially mitigated by lower finance costs due to lower borrowings.

“We are confident that the various efforts to improve operational performance such as accelerated replanting, mechanisation and water management at our estates, in addition to numerous other initiatives for cost reduction, will support the achievement of our targets,” executive deputy chairman and managing director Mohd Bakke Salleh said.

Sime Darby Plantation’s shares were trading 0.2 percent higher before the break, underperforming the benchmark index which was up 0.45 percent.

Benchmark palm oil prices were last down 0.3 percent at 2,433 ringgit a tonne. ($1 = 3.9750 ringgit) (Reporting by Liz Lee; editing by Richard Pullin)

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