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Golden Agri Profit Declines 36% on Lower Prices, Output

Golden Agri-Resources Ltd., the world’s second-largest oil-palm planter, said fourth-quarter profit fell 36 percent because of lower prices, output and plantation value.

Net income fell to $747.8 million in the three months ended Dec. 31 from $1.17 billion a year earlier, the Singapore-based company said today in a statement. That beat the $131.6 million average estimate of three analysts in a survey compiled by Bloomberg.

Golden Agri, the largest grower of palm fruit in Indonesia, posted lower profit as the global economic slowdown depressed demand for and prices of edible oils. Earnings were also eroded because the company booked a lower fair-value gain on its assets, compared with the same period last year.

Higher fertilizer costs and export taxes also contributed to the lower quarterly performance, the company said.

Golden Agri plans to expand plantations by 30,000 hectares this year, the company said in a presentation. It aims to expand its vegetable-oil refining and soybean-crushing capacities in China this year.

Sales rose to $1.3 billion from $1.19 billion a year earlier. Output of palm products fell 2 percent and crude palm oil prices dropped 8 percent in the quarter, compared with same period earlier, the company said.

Golden Agri posted a record fourth-quarter profit in 2010 on surging prices for palm oil and a fair-value asset gain of $1.37 billion. It booked a lower gain of $903 million in the fourth quarter this year.

Importers from China delayed shipments for the period October to December because of low demand and domestic prices, according to the website of the China National Grain & Oils Information Center.

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