May 6, 2012 / 10:42 PM / 5 years ago

Orica H1 profit down, but tops forecasts

MELBOURNE, May 7 (Reuters) - Australian explosives maker Orica Ltd reported a 4 percent fall in first-half profit on Monday, beating market forecasts even after chemical leaks forced it to shut a plant temporarily and heavy rain and strikes hit demand from coal mines.

The world's top maker of commercial explosives stuck to its forecast for a higher profit for the year to September, and its new chief executive, Ian Smith, said the company had opened its ammonium nitrate plant in Indonesia in April.

"Pricing conditions have generally improved, particularly in the North American market," said Smith, who took over the helm in February.

Net profit fell to A$253.3 million for the six months to March from A$263.8 million a year earlier, compared with an average forecast of A$241 million from eight brokers.

Orica's shares have risen 10 percent so far this year, outpacing the broader market's 8.6 percent gain. (Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by John Mair)

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