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Dekeloil boosts palm oil output but shares slip

DekelOil sees underlying first-half earnings materially higher than the €2.2m at the same time last year
Crude palm oil
The decision to increase its stake in the Ayenouan project looks to be paying off

Dekeloil Public Ltd (LON:DKL) reported higher first-half crude palm oil production at its Ayenouan palm oil project in Côte d'Ivoire.

But shares in the group fell as it acknowledged that CPO prices were depressed in the first half of 2016, partly as a result of the recent currency crisis in Nigeria, which is a big importer of refined CPO products.

The company said the first half of the year saw output of CPO rise 30.75% from the year before to 28,550 tonnes.

The plant has the capacity to produce 70,000 tonnes of CPO a year, so there is still room for further growth.

CPO sales rose 31.5% to 25,225 tonnes from 19,184 tonnes in the first half of 2015.

Despite the news, shares in Dekeloil fell 0.88p, or 6.7%, to 12.12p.

Cantor Fitzgerald noted that pricing was slightly muted by the temporary impact of the currency crisis in Nigeria.

But it added: "This now seems over and we think this is offset by lower fresh fruit bunch costs and by better volumes.

"We remain happy with our forecasts as a result. DekelOil now owns 85.75% of the mill. Underlying production continues to grow and the kernel crushing plant is delivering. We reiterate our 'buy' recommendation and target price of 23.6p."

Production of palm kernel oil (PKO) and palm kernel cake (PKC) at the company’s new kernel crushing plant was, respectively, 1,998 tonnes and 2,360 tonnes in the first six months of 2016. The plant only came on stream in November of last year.

As a result of the strong operational performance, the company expects underlying earnings (EBITDA) for the first half of 2016 to be materially higher than the €2.2m earned in the corresponding period of last year. In addition, the recent strengthening of the euro against sterling is expected to have a positive impact on DekelOil's results which are reported in euros.

Prices of fresh fruit bunches (FFB), the raw materials used to produce CPO, also fell.

Following the decision to let the Nigerian currency find its own level on the foreign exchange markets, DekelOil expects prices to normalise somewhat.

Meanwhile, with the company now selling PKO and PKC in meaningful quantities, the company’s gross margin should receive a significant lift.

"The significant increase in production at the Ayenouan palm oil project demonstrates exactly why we made the decision to increase our stake to 85.75% in this profitable asset,” said Lincoln Moore, DekelOil’s executive director.

"The close partnerships with local palm planters that provide feedstock for the mill are key drivers in our strategy and continue to produce mutually beneficial results,” Moore added.

“The current results support our view that the availability of FFB in our region is growing and we continue to benefit from this growth moving towards full utilisation of our mill. In addition, our effort towards maximising production of FFB at our own 1,900 hectare plantation is also paying off as plants mature. We are confident that we can realise significant value for shareholders from the project and look forward to advancing our development strategy as swiftly as possible," Moore said.

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