Mauritius leading sugar producer Omnicane reported an 82% increase in pretax losses in the first quarter ended March 31, ending the first three months of 2014 with losses of Rs 137.5 million, compared to Rs 75.5 million a year ago.

However, the conglomerate, which started operations in the sugar sector and now operates in industries such as energy and hospitality as well, saw its turnover rise by 3.2% to Rs 798.9 million, compared to last year’s Rs 774.1 million.

Operating profit for the quarter was down by Rs 54 million, mainly due to a lower final sugar price on the 2013 sugarcane crop.

Accordingly, on a segmental basis, the sugar sector’s operating loss rose by 32% to Rs 122.9 million compared to the last year when it was contained at Rs 93.1 million.

Furthermore, the energy sector showed a 2.5% dip in operating profits to Rs 156.7 million for the first quarter, against last year’s Rs 160.7 million.

Finally, the hospitality sector showed a loss of Rs 20.44 million in the first operating quarter of Omnicane’s new realty project, the Holiday Inn Airport Hotel. Comparative estimates for last year are not available, since the company has ventured into this sector recently.

Overall, the company registered a loss per share of Rs 2.25 versus Rs 1.57 last year.

On future outlook, management commented that, based on prevailing climatic conditions, a slightly better sugarcane crop is expected compared to 2013 and higher refined sugar production is planned for 2014. Also, the Kiscol sugar project in Kenya will start crushing canes in the second semester of 2014.

Moreover, the ethanol plant was successfully commissioned in April 2014 and has now started commercial production.

Coming to the energy segment, the results are expected to be at the same level as in 2013.

Finally, the hospitality segment will see profits of about Rs 250 million in 2014 from infrastructure works for the Highlands Rose Morcellement, which are now underway.

Image (Omnicane): A lower final sugar price on the 2013 sugarcane crop and a loss of Rs 20.44 million in the first operating quarter of Omnicane’s new realty project, the Holiday Inn Airport Hotel were responsible for widening losses.

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