Olam Turns to Loss in December Quarter on PureCircle Writedown

  • Trader registers Ebitda growth across 3 of 5 businesses
  • Sees contribution from food staples drop as prices decline

Olam International Ltd., the Singapore commodity trader controlled by the city’s state investment company, turned to a net loss in the December quarter after taking a charge of S$192.6 million ($136.7 million) against the value of its investment in PureCircle Ltd. following an accounting reclassification.

The fourth-quarter net loss of S$221.3 million compared with net income of S$118.7 million a year earlier, according to statement Monday. For the full-year, Olam recorded a loss of S$64.3 million, from a profit of S$591 million in 2014, even as operating profit rose 20 percent. Revenue advanced 12 percent for the quarter and fell 3.6 percent for the year.

The reclassification of PureCircle, which markets Stevia sugar substitutes, doesn’t affect equity or cashflow and followed a recommendation from its auditors, the company said.

Olam said it registered growth over the year in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization in three of its five businesses -- nuts and spices, confectionery and commodity financial services.

Food staples and industrial raw materials saw reduced Ebitda. The former, which makes up more a third of Olam’s business, dropped 28 percent in the year as the Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, which tracks the price of eight agricultural commodities, averaged about 57 in 2015 compared with 64 the year before.

Olam, one of the world’s biggest food traders, sold stakes in its Australian grain and its packaged food businesses and completed the $1.2 billion acquisition of Archer-Daniels-Midland Co.’s cocoa business in October, becoming the world’s third-largest processor. In January, Olam doubled its milling capacity in sub-Saharan Africa by buying assets in Nigeria, and said it would start rubber production from plantations in Gabon.

Olam rose 2.2 percent to S$1.61 in Singapore on Friday, trimming its decline to 20 percent over the last 12 months. Temasek Capital Pte Ltd. owns 51 percent of the trader.

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