May 10, 2018 / 10:22 AM / 16 days ago

UPDATE 1-Singapore's Wilmar profit plunges on tropical oils, sugar segments

* Q1 net profit $203.3 mln vs year-ago $342 mln

* Prolonged China-U.S. trade standoff would hit plant utilization (Adds details, CEO comment on outlook)

SINGAPORE, May 10 (Reuters) - Singapore-listed commodity trader Wilmar International Ltd posted a 40.6 percent fall in its first-quarter net profit, citing weaker performance in its tropical oils segment and seasonal losses in its sugar business.

The company, whose biggest shareholders include U.S. agricultural trader Archer Daniels Midland Co, reported a net profit of $203.3 million for the three months ended March, compared with a year-ago profit of $342 million.

It posted a core net profit, which excludes non-operating items, of $183.5 million, compared with $293 million a year earlier.

Its tropical oils business recorded a pre-tax profit of $101.7 million in the quarter, down 34 percent from a year ago, and its sugar segment posted a wider pretax loss of $39 million.

Wilmar’s oilseeds and grains segment, posted a 17 percent fall in pretax profit of $172.6 million.

China, one of Wilmar’s biggest markets, last month threatened to impose a 25 percent tariff on imports of U.S. soybeans in retaliation for trade actions taken by President Donald Trump.

“Even though performance of our oilseed crushing business will not be affected in the short term, a prolonged standoff between China and the U.S. would affect the utilization of our crushing plants,” said Kuok Khoon Hong, chairman and chief executive officer.

“Nevertheless, we foresee that any negative effect will be partially mitigated by better performances from both our flour and rice businesses,” he added.

Kuok said the tropical oils segment will likely perform better in the subsequent quarters. (Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Christian Schmollinger)

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