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Hot stock: Noble Group shares slump on profit warning

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SHARES of Noble Group tanked on Thursday following a profit warning by the beleaguered commodity trader, which re-ignited concerns over a longer-than-expected recovery process.

At 9.41am, the counter had lost 21.2 per cent to S$1.02, on hefty trading that saw 23.2 million shares changing hands. Noble had just undertaken a 10-to-one share consolidation.

Ahead of is first-quarter results due out on Thursday after the market closes, the Hong Kong-headquartered company warned on Tuesday night of a net loss of about US$130 million in the three months ended March 31.

It said that the operating environment remained challenging during the quarter, "made worse by dislocation in the coal markets during the quarter".

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This would mark the weakest result in more than two years, excluding a writedown of over a billion dollars reported in October-December 2015, which led to big losses.

But Noble added that it did make significant progress in carrying out the cost reduction initiatives which were announced during the FY2016 results presentation in February, resulting in significant reduction of quarterly selling, administrative and operating expenses in the first quarter.

The company has been trying to restore investor confidence following attacks by little-known Iceberg Research on its allegedly aggressive accounting practices and after a commodities downturn triggered several downgrades by credit rating agencies, a share price collapse, and a series of writedowns and asset sales.

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