| PARIS, Sept 29
PARIS, Sept 29 Agricultural trading group Louis
Dreyfus Company B.V. managed to eke out a small
increase in net profit in the first half of 2016 despite
"erratic" market conditions and a tough economic backdrop taking
their toll on sales.
Louis Dreyfus, one of the traditional big four agricultural
commodity traders, has been grappling with a period of ample
supply, lower prices and slower economic growth that have cut
margins, while also going through a leadership shake-up under
main shareholder Margarita Louis-Dreyfus.
The company said on Thursday that net income was $135
million compared with $130 million in the first half of 2015,
while operating profit for its business segments fell to $546
million from $638 million as net sales dropped to $23.5 billion
from $26.4 billion.
Unexpected capital inflows in commodities in the second
quarter added to the difficult trading conditions, it added.
"Posting reasonable results during such periods and a
context of continued oversupply illustrates our ability to
adjust to changing conditions," Chief Executive Officer Gonzalo
Ramirez Martiarena said in an interim results report.
Louis Dreyfus is the "D" of the so-called ABCD quartet of
trading giants, alongside Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge
and Cargill, that collect, process and export
crops around the world.
The unfavourable landscape for commodity traders has led
companies to restructure some activities.
Louis Dreyfus said its shipped volumes increased 1 percent
compared with the year-earlier period, supported by grain and
oilseed exports from South America at its Value Chain segment
and metals flows at its Merchandising segment.
Capital expenditure was $132 million, close to the $135
million level in the first half of 2015.
Dreyfus in March reported a plunge in net profit for 2015
and confirmed it was seeking partners to help some of its
businesses expand, starting with its fertiliser division.
It did not give any update on partnerships in its first-half
Among its rivals, ADM said last month it was pulling back in
ethanol and exploring sales of corn dry mills that produce the
biofuel as weak ethanol results contributed to lower quarterly
(Editing by Alexander Smith)