KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 (Reuters) - Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd, the world's largest palm oil planter by land size, said on Wednesday its third quarter net profit rose 5.4 percent on a year earlier boosted by plantation and auto earnings.
The company with businesses ranging from plantations to properties and motors recorded a net profit of 699 million ringgit ($163.6 million) for the quarter ended March, up from 663 million ringgit in the corresponding quarter a year ago.
Revenue came in at 12.5 billion ringgit, compared with 10.2 billion ringgit last year.
President and Group Chief Executive, Mohd Bakke Salleh said the group's year-to-date results have largely been supported by higher crude palm oil (CPO) prices.
CPO prices averaged 2,861 ringgit per metric tonne in the first nine months, up from 2,113 ringgit in the same period last year.
"Despite tightening regulations and rising import costs, we are encouraged by the motors division's performance, driven by higher demand in key markets," he added in a statement filed to the local stock exchange during the midday break.
Sime Darby's motors division, its auto sales and distribution arm, registered a 28.5 percent increase in profit due to higher contributions from Malaysia, China and New Zealand, and a gain on disposal of a property in Hong Kong, the company said.
The industrial division, which supplies heavy equipment, saw support from stabilising coal prices and more construction activity in China and Malaysia, although division's contribution fell 10.9 percent, Sime Darby said.
"Business sentiment in Australasia has improved slightly as coal prices stabilised. This has resulted in better performance in the product support business coupled with higher equipment deliveries in Papua New Guinea," the group said.
"In China and Malaysia, equipment deliveries and product support sales has also improved driven by the construction sector."
Bakke added that the company's plans to list its plantation and property units are on track.
Sime Darby shares were down 0.21 percent at the midday break, outperforming a 0.02 percent decline in the benchmark stock index.
For the full statement: bit.ly/2rThCDD
$1 = 4.2740 ringgit Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Richard Pullin