(Adds comment on continued risk, market background)
HAMBURG, June 16 (Reuters) - Suedzucker, Europe’s largest sugar producer, on Wednesday reported lower first-quarter earnings due to the coronavirus pandemic, but remained optimistic that profits would rise in its full financial year.
Suedzucker announced that preliminary group operating profits dropped to 49 million euros ($59.37 million) in the first quarter in its 2021/22 year ending May 31, from 61 million last year.
Turnover rose to 1.75 billion euros from 1.67 billion last year. The company is due to announce full quarterly results on July 8.
The pandemic led to “numerous distortions” in the first-quarter results, Suedzucker said in a statement.
“Despite expected decreasing effects from the coronavirus pandemic, there are still risks linked to the pandemic in business year 2021/22,” the company said. “The respective economic and financial impact and duration is still difficult to assess.”
Suedzucker made the advance announcement because its business sectors are reacting differently to the pandemic, and the first-quarter results are weaker than a year ago, a Suedzucker spokesperson said.
“We are still analysing the reasons. We remain optimistic for the full year, with the expectation that the impact of the pandemic will decline,” the spokesperson said.
Along with sugar, the group produces biofuels and processed foods such as pizzas and food ingredients.
Suedzucker on Wednesday affirmed that it still expected full-year consolidated group operating earnings of 300 million to 400 million euros, up from 236 million euros the prior year.
“World sugar prices remain firm but this price impact is not yet fully visible in Europe,” the spokesperson said.
New York sugar futures hit their highest in nearly four years in February on tightening world supplies but dipped in June on improving harvest outlooks in several key producing countries.
Suedzucker in May gave an upbeat outlook for its financial year, with sugar demand expected to rise as retail and hospitality sectors restart after coronavirus lockdowns. (Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Richard Chang and Cynthia Osterman)