Asian Citrus revenue fell 14.5% to RMB 892 million [US$143 million] in the six months ended December 31st at AIM-listed Asian Citrus. The company, which owns orange plantations in China, reported that total production was down 6.0% to 161,233 tons, primarily reflecting a planned replanting program to increase yields.

Core net profits were down 22.7% to RMB 249.5 million [US$40 million] reflecting higher direct production costs as a result of unstable weather conditions in 2012 and general wage inflation in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The company also reported strong free cash flow of RMB 144.9 million [US$23.2 million] and cash and cash equivalents of RMB 2.4 billion [US$380 million] as of December 31st 2012. Some 129,000 summer orange trees were planted during the current period and another 600,000 summer orange trees are scheduled to be planted before December 2013.

Tony Tong, the Chairman of Asian Citrus, commented: “Our performance during the six month period was disappointing, primarily due to the higher costs incurred as a result of unstable weather in 2012 and general wage inflation in the PRC. “The group’s second half performance will reflect the price achieved for the group’s summer orange crop, the selling price of pineapple juice concentrates and the impact of weather on the volume of fertilizers and pesticides used by the group.

“In this respect we expect that orange prices will rise, albeit slightly, responding to the inflationary environment and the forecasts for China’s economy, which the World Bank has predicted will expand by 8.4% in 2013 and we are also optimistic that juice prices will continue to increase throughout the balance of the year.

Source: Fresh Plaza Feb 2013

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