* Q1 net rises 49 pct to $241.2 million
* Revenue falls 8.3 pct on lower commodity prices
* Expects crushing margin to be positive into mid-2015 (Adds details on sugar business in paragraphs 1, 7,8)
SINGAPORE, May 7 (Reuters) - Singapore-based Wilmar International Ltd on Thursday said net profit jumped 49 percent in the first quarter as strong earnings at its oilseeds and grains business offset losses in other segments, including the company’s sugar segment.
The world’s largest palm oil processor and one of the biggest buyers of soybeans reported profit of $241.2 million for January-March. That was on revenue which fell 8.3 percent to $9.4 billion due to a decline in commodity prices.
Pre-tax profit from the oilseeds and grains division grew to $166.1 million from $13.6 million a year earlier, driven by higher crushing margins and improved performance in its consumer product business.
Wilmar said crushing margins in China CNSOY-RZO-MRG rose due to a decline in soybean imports and prices.
“Crush margins are expected to remain positive going into mid-2015,” Wilmar said in a statement.
High earnings contributions from associates in India and China also boosted profit, Wilmar said.
That helped offset a pre-tax loss in Wilmar’s sugar segment of $68 million in the first quarter, more than a quarter higher than the prior year’s loss of $54 million, due to weaker performances in the company’s Indonesian refineries and merchandising business.
The greater losses came as Wilmar’s sugar sales volumes jumped 28 percent to 1.8 million tonnes, the company said. Wilmar has been increasing its footprint in the global sugar market, boosting its trading activities and scooping up assets.
Shares of Wilmar closed up 0.6 percent ahead of the earnings release, versus a 0.8 percent decline in the broader market . (Reporting by Rujun Shen in Singapore; Additional reporting by Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)