November 7, 2016 / 2:38 PM / 9 months ago

Canned tuna firm Thai Union profit dips, but sales hit record

BANGKOK, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Thai Union Pcl, the world's biggest producer of canned tuna, said on Monday its quarterly net profit fell almost 2 percent, hit by higher raw material costs, but sales reached a record for the second consecutive quarter.

Net profit was 1.59 billion baht ($45.43 million) for the July-September quarter, in line with an average 1.54 billion baht forecast by 11 analysts polled by Reuters.

Sales in baht term rose 7.7 percent year-on-year to 35 billion baht, due to the appreciation of the currency, higher shrimp and salmon raw material prices and the acquisitions of German seafood firm Rugen Fisch and Canadian lobster processor Chez Nous, it said in a statement.

Gross margin declined to 14.1 percent from 17.3 percent a year earlier due to continued high salmon prices and higher-than-expected tuna prices, it said.

Thai Union makes the "Chicken of the Sea", the third-largest tuna brand in the United States.

Thai Union has been seeking to boost its business through acquisitions after it scrapped a $1.5 billion deal to buy U.S. rival Bumble Bee Seafoods in December.

The Thai firm has bought in October a minority stake in U.S. seafood chain Red Lobster Seafood Restaurants in a $575 million deal to expand in the United States, its biggest market.

Before earnings announcement, Thai Union shares closed up 0.45 percent, while the main Thai index was 1.12 percent higher. ($1 = 35.0000 baht) (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong, editing by Louise Heavens)

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