News Column

Noble's Q1 net more than trebles to US$152.3m

May 20, 2014

ENP Newswire - 20 May 2014

Release date- 16052014 - Commodity trader Noble Group's net profit more than trebled for the first quarter ended March 2014 to US$152.3 million from a year ago, led by improved margins in its energy and minerals division and lower losses in its agriculture business.

The group's operating income from supply chains jumped 30 per cent to US$497.4 million, although revenue fell 7 per cent to US$17.96 billion.

Operating margin rose to 2.77 per cent from 1.98 per cent a year earlier.

The better operating margins despite a relatively flat tonnage and lower revenue, said Noble's chief executive Yusuf Alireza, reflected the firm's focus on margin opportunities which was further aided by higher price volatility.

Performance across all three segments was encouraging, with the energy division posting record operating profit income of US$437 million, powered by the oil, gas and power business.

The energy unit's margin jumped 2.9 per cent from 2.5 per cent a year ago.

The metals, minerals and ores (MMO) business was a star performer, with margins jumping to 2.4 per cent from 0.3 per cent, driven by higher aluminium premiums.

The agriculture business saw losses after tax narrow substantially to US$79 million from US$180 million a year ago.

The firm said a solid performance in South America in a seasonally slow quarter was offset by weak crushing margins in China and the ramp up of three new crushing assets as they moved towards full operation.

Earnings per share stood at 2.22 US cents, up from 0.53 cent a year ago.

The inspiring earnings aside, it was Noble's transformational deal to sell a 51 per cent stake in its agriculture business to Cofco, China's largest food processor, manufacturer and trader, that was the focus of yesterday's briefing by the company. Last month, Noble, whose second-largest shareholder is sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp, said it had inked a pact with Cofco to sell the stake for US$1.5 billion.

The agri business suffered its worst year in 2013, incurring a net loss of US$377 million.

Quashing rumours that the deal could face some regulatory hurdles, Mr Yusof said it will likely be done by early in the fourth quarter.

'This offers an exciting opportunity for Noble's shareholders to participate in the next phase of our agricultural platform development,' said Mr Yusuf. 'All the parties in the transactions are energised by this opportunity,' he added.


Ms. Rebecca Fung

Noble Group Limited

Tel: +852 2861 4625


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Source: ENP Newswire

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