VIENNA, AUSTRIA — AGRANA reported on Jan. 13 third-quarter profit of €26.9 million ($29.1 million), up 28% from €21 million in the same period  last year. But for the first three quarters of 2015-16, operating profit was €70.8 million, down 14.6% from €81.2 million in the same period  last year.

Revenue for the third quarter was €644.5 million, up 2.4% from €629.2 million in the same period last year. Revenue for first three quarters was €1.908 billion, down from €1.914 billion in the same period last year.

Revenue in the Starch segment in the first nine months of 2015-16 was €544 million, up 1.6% from €535.4 million in the same period last year. Among other areas, the revenue growth was achieved in the bioethanol business, which benefited from higher selling prices, and in wet starch derivatives, due to higher sales volumes, the company said.

Operating profit for the segment in the first three quarters was €52.9 million, up 16% from €45.6 million. For the third quarter, operating profit was €21.8 million, up from €20.4 million. The company said this operating profit growth was driven above all by the improved prices of ethanol; also, average raw material costs for the Starch segment as a whole eased slightly year-on-year.

“In the Starch segment we achieved a strong improvement in profitability from the prior-year period thanks especially to higher ethanol prices,” Johann Marihart, AGRANA’s chief executive officer (CEO), said.

AGRANA continues to expect Group revenue to remain steady in the 2015-16 financial year. For operating profit (EBIT), the Group is projecting slight growth year-on-year in view of a combination of increased price expectations for bioethanol, lower raw material prices and an at least neutral earnings result in the Sugar segment. In the 2015-16 financial year, the AGRANA Group's total investment will be about €112 million, thus exceeding depreciation of just under €90 million.