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PT Astra Agro Lestari Tbk : Astra Agro 2013 Average CPO Price Likely Around IDR7,000/kg -Executive

04/23/2013 | 08:09am US/Eastern
   By Linda Silaen 
 

JAKARTA--Major Indonesian palm oil producer PT Astra Agro Lestari (AALI.JK) expects its average selling price to reach around 7,000 rupiah ($0.72) a kilogram this year, improving from the first-quarter price, on the backdrop of lower inventories in top producing countries Indonesia and Malaysia.

"It's quite difficult to predict this year's average price, but we expect it to be around IDR7,000/kg," underpinned by expectations that inventories in Southeast Asia could ease further, Widya Wiryawan, president director, told reporters after the company's annual shareholders' meeting.

He added that Astra Agro's average price was around IDR6,500/kg in the first three months of the year.

Oil palm yields in Southeast Asia remained weak in the January-March period, helping to lower stocks at a time when export demand is still sluggish.

Market participants and analysts said inventories may fall again in the May-June period as buyers usually commence purchases a few months before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan--which starts in July this year. Consumption of cooking oil rises during this period as Muslims break fasts with evening feasts.

Earlier Tuesday, Astra Agro reported that first-quarter net profit fell 5.7% to IDR356.4 billion from IDR377.9 billion a year earlier due to lower CPO prices. It sold 382,900 tons in the quarter ended March, 28% higher than a year earlier.

In a bid to limit its dependence on CPO, the company aims to start its 2,000-ton-a-day olein plant in Mamuju in West Sulawesi by the end of the year.

Mr. Wiryawan also said the company has set aside 2,000 hectares where it plans to plant rubber.

Shie-Lynn Lim in Kuala Lumpur contributed to this article.

Write to Linda Silaen at linda.silaen@dowjones.com

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