HONG KONG, CHINA — Noble Group Ltd. reported on May 10 that operating income from its agriculture division in the first quarter dropped 63% to $47.3 million.

Noble said it expects the segments performance to strengthen further into 2012 since its Brazilian sugar mills will move into the post-harvest production season.

Overall net profit for the company was down 46% to $110 million, compared to $203 million a year ago, which included a one-time gain from the sale of Noble’s fleet management business.

"The efforts that we have expended in recent years in getting into new businesses and new markets are starting to pay off and we look forward to extracting value from these initiatives under our new CEO, Yusuf Alireza," said Noble’s founder and chairman, Richard Elman.

Revenue rose 14% to a record of $22.84 billion, Noble said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange.