Leading Asian agribusiness Wilmar saw core net profits jump 120% to US$438.4M for the fourth quarter ended 31 December, World Grain reported on 20 February.

This compares with a figure of US$199.4M in the same period last year.

The company attributed the results to its strong performance in Tropical Oils and Oilseeds & Grains, along with the absence of impairment loss in sugar.

This improvement in results was, however, offset by lower contributions from Wilmar’s associates and joint ventures.

Net profit for 2019 increased 15% to US$1.29bn, World Grain wrote. The year’s profit was boosted by Tropical Oils and Consumer products, and while the oilseeds crushing business was affected by the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in China, it still turned around with better-than-expected results in the second half of 2019.

Looking ahead, Wilmar chairman and CEO Kuok Khoon Hong said that Tropical Oils’ performance for the coming year should benefit from higher palm oil prices.

“The current 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has brought volatility to the commodity markets and further challenges to our operating environment, especially in China. At the moment, we do not expect a major impact on our businesses as we are mainly operating in the food products industry. Nevertheless, a prolonged outbreak of COVID-19 may have a greater impact on our operations.”

Pretax profit at Wilmar’s Oilseeds & Grains business jumped 61% to US$185.4M in the fourth quarter of 2019. The segment’s performance had been supported by improved crush margins and seasonal demand for consumer products.

For the year, the Oilseeds & Grains segment pretax profit decreased 27% to US$636.9M as overall crush volumes fell due to the ASF outbreak in the first half of 2019.

Tropical Oils pretax profit for the fourth quarter increased 116% to US$287.3M, up from $134.1M in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Headquartered in Singapore, Wilmar’s business activities include oil palm cultivation, oilseed crushing, edible oils refining, sugar milling and refining, production of speciality fats, oleochemicals and biodiesel, fertiliser manufacturing as well as rice and flour milling and sugar milling and refining.