Fri, 01 Aug 2008
From: The Jakarta Post
By Novia D. Rulistia, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
PT Astra International, the country's largest publicly traded company, posted hefty growth in the first semester of the year due to higher automotive sales and strong performance of its agribusiness.

Astra's revenue increased by 46 percent to Rp 46.27 trillion (US$5.06 billion) from Rp 31.68 trillion in the same period last year. Higher sales pushed up the company's net profit to Rp 4.75 trillion, an 81 percent increase from Rp 2.62 trillion a year earlier.

President director Michael D. Ruslim said Tuesday the sales of cars and motorcycles combined with the company's financing subsidiary contributed Rp 2.23 trillion to a total operational income of Rp 6.61 trillion.

Thanks to affordable automotive financing, he said, the company was able to sell 148,000 cars in the first semester, more than half of the 293,000 cars sold in Indonesia.

In addition, Astra also saw an increase in its motorcycle sales, selling 1.4 million units or 44 percent of total domestic motorcycles sales of 3.1 million units in the first semester.

However, Michael said, sales growth was likely to slow down following Bank Indonesia's (BI) decision to raise borrowing costs to cool inflation.

BI raised its benchmark rate for a third month in July to 8.75 percent. Economic analysts have predicted that higher than expected inflation in June and July may prompt BI to raise the rate for a fourth time next month.

"We're very grateful for the tremendous performance of the company in the first half of the year. Nevertheless, certain markets are expected to become more challenging in response to growing inflation and a higher interest rate trend," Michael said.

Outside the automotive business, Astra's subsidiary in agribusiness, PT Astra Agro Lestari, booked a 134 percent jump in its net profit to Rp 1.6 trillion from Rp 652.52 billion on the back of higher sales and higher crude palm oil (CPO) price.

The company sold 476,909 tons of CPO in the first six months, 10.2 percent of which was exported, up from 398,787 tons sold last year.

In the year-on-year period, the company's selling CPO price increased by 59 percent from an average of Rp 5,222 per kilogram to Rp 8,299 per kilo, while its production increased by 20 percent to about 494,000 tons due to expansion of plantation area and favorable weather conditions.



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