Tue Oct 28, 2008 7:02am EDT
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JAKARTA, Oct 28 (Reuters) - PT Astra Agro Lestari (AALI.JK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Indonesia's largest listed plantation firm, reported on Tuesday a 66 percent rise in nine-month net profit on the back of strong output and higher CPO prices.
Astra Agro, owned by Indonesia's largest automotive distributor, PT Astra International Tbk (ASII.JK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), reported a net profit of 2.13 trillion rupiah ($195.4 million) in January-September, compared to 1.29 trillion rupiah a year ago.
Sales rose 62.6 percent to 6.70 trillion rupiah, largely due to higher palm oil sales volumes.
"High CPO prices and its derivative products until the third quarter boosted the firm's revenue growth," Astra Agro's president director, Widya Wiryawan, said in a statement, adding that average CPO prices until September 2008 were 41 percent higher than the year-ago period.
"The firm's revenue growth was also contributed by higher CPO sales volume, which is in line with an increase in production," he said, adding lower CPO prices in the fourth quarter "would definitely affect palm oil plantations and farmers".
The company, which has a market capitalisation of $803 million, had said its crude palm oil sales volume climbed 14.6 percent to 735,497 tonnes in the January-September period.
Sales from crude palm oil contributed to around 84 percent of the company's total sales in the first nine month period of 2008.
Astra Agro, which accounts for about 5 percent of Indonesia's total crude palm oil production, benefited from soaring palm oil prices earlier this year.
But palm oil prices have fallen over 60 percent from an all time high of 4,486 ringgit a tonne hit in March.
Indonesia has overtaken Malaysia as the world's top palm oil producer. It is expected to produce 18.4 million tonnes of CPO this year, up around 7.5 percent from 2007.
The company is aiming to boost its output by 7.5 percent to 990,000 tonnes in 2008, on the back of better productivity and a larger plantation area. It is in the process of expanding its plantation area by 60,000-70,000 hectares by 2009. ($1 = 10,900 rupiah) ($1 = 3.578 Malaysian ringgit) (Reporting by Harry Suhartono and Andreas Ismar, editing by Sugita Katyal)