Noble sees earnings climb 77pc to US$203m

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 May, 2011, 12:00am

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Noble, the Hong Kong-headquartered, Singapore-listed commodities and supply chain group, saw net profit rise to a first-quarter record on the back of strong growth in commodity volumes in the first three months of this year.

Earnings climbed 77 per cent to US$203 million in the first quarter, up from US$115 million a year earlier and a record for any first quarter since the company listed in 1997.

Robert van der Zalm, the firm's chief financial officer, said commodity volumes rose to 50.1 million tonnes in the first three months, up 17 per cent compared with 42.9 million tonnes a year earlier.

This reflected the coming on-stream of new processing and supply facilities mainly in the group's agriculture and power distribution businesses. These included crushing plants in Argentina and the Black Sea region of the Ukraine, and distribution activities in Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Total group revenue rose 76 per cent to top US$20 billion in the first quarter, against US$11.4 billion in the same period last year.

The energy business posted the biggest gains in revenue and tonnage, with the total climbing to 27.8 million tonnes in the first quarter compared with 22.7 million tonnes a year before. Revenue rose to US$14.4 billion, up from US$7.4 billion.

Tonnages in the metals, minerals and ores business slipped to 13 million tonnes, down from 14.3 million tonnes a year earlier. But revenue rose to US$2.4 billion, up from US$1.5 billion, on the back of higher commodity prices.

Tonnage from the agriculture operation climbed to 9.3 million tonnes, up from 5.9 million tonnes. Revenues from the business increased to US$3.2 billion against US$2.4 billion.

Solid gains

Commodity volumes rose 17 per cent in the first three months against a year earlier to reach, in tonnes: 50m