Friday, 27 February 2009

Wilmar net profit up 60%

Wilmar net profit up 60%

By Goh Eng Yeow The Straits Times, Singapore

PLANTATION giant Wilmar International on Friday reported a 59.7 per cent jump in its fourth quarter profit to US$373. million, even though revenues fell 10.4 per cent to US$5.83 billion.

A large 28.5 per cent drop in selling costs to US$229.3 million contributed to the sharp rise in profit. Operating costs also fell 54 per cent to US$41.5 million.

Wilmar, which owns oil palm plantations and runs milling, crushing, refining and processing plants in Indonesia and Malaysia, is cautiously optimistic about its near-term prospects.

Wilmar's Chief Executive Officer Kuok Khoon Hong said the company is keen on acquiring assets and has about US$1 billion available for mergers and acquisitions.

Wilmar had about US$2.5 billion in cash at the end of December and about US$1 billion could be used for buying plantations, ships or food companies, Kuok told Reuters on the sidelines of the firm's results briefing on Friday.

'Dry bulk ships are very cheap now,' he said.

The firm is declaring a final dividend of 4.5 cents, which brings its total payout for the year to 7.3 cents.

Wilmar rose as much as 3.7 per cent to S$2.82, and traded at S$2.77 at 10.17 am in Singapore on Friday.