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Noble Drops After Fall in Third-Quarter Profit: Singapore Mover

Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Noble Group Ltd., Asia’s biggest commodity trader by sales, fell the most in almost two weeks in Singapore after third-quarter profit dropped 70 percent due to a loss related to its stake in coal miner Yancoal Australia Ltd.

Shares fell 2.8 percent, the most since Nov. 1, to S$1.05 at the close after declining as much as 6 percent earlier in the day. The benchmark Straits Times index fell 0.4 percent. The stock’s drop was the biggest on the index.

Noble said yesterday its net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 was $22.9 million, its lowest quarterly result in two years, after it booked a non-cash loss related to Yancoal. Shares of the Hong Kong-based company had rallied 36 percent from a yearly low recorded in August.

“The shares had done very well and normally what you have is people selling on news,” Carey Wong, an analyst at OCBC Investment Research Pte., said by phone from Singapore. Many investors weren’t expecting the extent of Yancoal’s loss, he said.

Noble’s profit, excluding the loss, was $113 million, the highest since the third quarter of 2010, the company said yesterday. Sales in the quarter advanced 13 percent to $25.6 billion.

“Investors may be surprised by the size of the loss in associate earnings,” Morgan Stanley analysts Charles Spencer and Mean Phil Chong said in a note dated yesterday, advising investors to buy the shares on near-term weakness. “The turnaround in agriculture should bode well for the earnings outlook.”

Noble said yesterday operating income at its agricultural unit, which includes sugar mills and oilseeds crushing plants, fell 80 percent from last year to $14 million. That compares with losses in the past two quarters.

Noble’s earnings accounted for its share of Yancoal’s A$749.4 million ($697 million) loss recorded for the first six months. Noble is the miner’s second-biggest shareholder with a 13.2 percent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Yun in Hong Kong at myun11@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net

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