November 16, 2017 / 6:21 AM / a year ago

Profits triple at Malaysia palm oil company Sime Darby

* Announces net profit of 1.32 bln ringgit for last quarter

* Boosted by asset sales, increased palm oil production

* Company in process of spinning off some units

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s Sime Darby Bhd , the world’s largest oil palm planter by land size, on Thursday said its first quarter net profit increased over 150 percent versus a year ago, buoyed by increased production and by the sale of some assets.

The conglomerate, whose interests stretch beyond palm oil into areas such as property, announced a net profit of 1.32 billion ringgit ($315.98 million) for the quarter that ended in September, up from its restated earnings of 522 million ringgit in the corresponding quarter a year ago.

Revenue for the quarter stood at 8.14 billion ringgit, versus restated revenue of 6.93 billion ringgit for the same time last year.

“At the plantation division, higher fresh fruit bunch production supported by higher crude palm oil prices realised increased earnings,” Sime Darby said in a statement.

“The group also recognised gains on disposal of properties.”

Sime Darby’s plantation division saw its profits jump by more than four times, boosted by land sales and as palm fruit output recovered from the lingering effects of a strong El Nino weather pattern in 2015 and 2016, which brought dry conditions to swathes of Southeast Asia.

Profits at the company’s property division more than doubled on the back of stake disposals in two other property companies.

Sime Darby announced in August it was on track to spin-off and list its plantations and property businesses by year-end after some restructuring activity.

The company on Wednesday announced Nov. 30 as the tentative listing date for its plantation and property units.

Benchmark palm oil prices were up 0.6 percent at 2,747 ringgit a tonne at the midday break on Thursday.

The group reported its quarterly results during the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange’s midday break. Its shares were trading 0.9-percent lower before the break, underperforming the benchmark index which was down 0.1 percent.

($1 = 4.1775 ringgit)

Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Joseph Radford

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