* Q1 profit $361.6 mln vs year ago $239.4 mln
* Tropical oils, oilseeds, grains businesses boost results (Adds details on China operations, comments from statement)
SINGAPORE, May 11 (Reuters) - Wilmar International Ltd , the world’s largest palm oil processor, posted a 51 percent rise in quarterly profit on Thursday and said it was carrying out a restructuring that could possibly lead to a separate listing for its Chinese operations.
Singapore’s Wilmar, whose biggest shareholders include U.S. agricultural trader Archer Daniels Midland Co, said it was still evaluating the potential listing of the Chinese operations and there was no certainty it will be carried out.
It did not provide further details
According to its annual report, Wilmar is the top edible oils refiner as well as speciality fats and oleochemicals manufacturer in China, where it is also among the largest flour and rice millers.
China is the company’s biggest market by revenue, where it also sells edible oils, grains and noodles under its brands.
In 2009, Wilmar shelved plans for a roughly $3 billion listing of its Chinese unit in Hong Kong. (reut.rs/2pBRmtj)
On Thursday, the company reported a net profit of $361.6 million for the three months ended March, versus a net profit of $239.4 million a year earlier.
Wilmar, one of the biggest soybean buyers, said core net profit, which excludes non-operating items, rose about 40 percent to $312.6 million.
Pretax profit at the company’s tropical oils business rose 20 percent to $178.6 million. Its oilseeds and grains business recorded a profit before tax of $213.7 million, up 27 percent.
Wilmar’s sugar business posted a pretax loss of 34.5 million for the quarter.
The company said it expected lower crude palm oil prices to hurt its plantation and palm oil mills operations, which would be partially offset by anticipated higher palm oil production.
“Recent volatility in sugar prices is expected to impact our sugar operations. Overall, we are cautiously optimistic that the next quarter’s performance will be satisfactory,” Kuok Khoon Hong, chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
The company’s shares, valued by the market at about $15.6 billion, closed down 1 percent ahead of the results. (Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Randy Fabi and Mark Potter)