Crookes Brothers’ first-half net profit leapt nearly threefold as higher cane and banana prices more than made up for a drop in deciduous fruit prices. The agricultural group said on Tuesday that net profit rose 165% to R70m for the six moths to September from the previous matching period. The KwaZulu-Natal company said operating profit from sugar cane more than doubled to R134.33m from R49.87m, despite cane output falling 19% due to drought. Company operations span KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Swaziland, Zambia and Mozambique. Banana production was 6% better than in 2015, supported by a 48% increase in banana prices due to undersupply because of drought. This resulted in a R16.6m increase in operating profit in the segment to R26.58m from a matching period last year. "The board cautions against using interim results to project full year earnings, due to the effect of seasonality of crop revenues on profitability," the company said. The interim dividend per share rose to...

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