Soaring profit of Astra Agro Lestari in 2016 was partly caused by the company's foreign exchange gain. The stronger Indonesian rupiah delivered the company IDR 200.6 billion in foreign exchange gain last year (whereas in the preceding year its foreign exchange loss was IDR 580.4 billion).

Another key reason that explains the jump in profit was the strengthening CPO price in 2016. On the Kuala Lumpur bourse the CPO price climbed 25 percent to 3,000 ringgit per ton in 2016, supported by declining CPO production in Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's largest suppliers of palm oil (this production decline was caused by weather-related issues).

The rising CPO price last year provided a fresh wave of air in the palm oil sector. This was also visible in the share performance. Astra Agro Lestari, listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange, saw its shares rise 5.84 percent in 2016. This is a sharp contrast to the company's share performance in 2017. So far this year its shares fell 12.67 percent to IDR 14,650 a piece. This weak performance is in line with the 5.8 percent contraction of the CPO price in early 2017. Thus, those who want to invest in shares of Astra Agro Lestari need to carefully monitor the direction of the CPO price.

Stock Quote Astra Agro Lestari - AALI:

But despite the sliding CPO and share price in the first quarter of 2017, most analysts would recommend investors to purchase stocks of Astra Agro Lestari. Analysts' average target for the company's share price is IDR 18,257 per share (with the P/E ratio at 15.5 times), implying there is still room for upward growth in analysts' minds. Growth is supported by expectation that the CPO price will remain stable in 2017 (although staying below levels we saw last year). Heavy rainfall in Southeast Asia at the year start (which undermines the production process) and the stronger US dollar are cited as reasons for a stable CPO price in 2017 (ringgit depreciation encourages a CPO price rally).

Meanwhile, Astra Agro Lestari should see an improvement in production figures in the second half of 2017 as the impact of the La Nina weather phenomenon wanes. The company's production of fresh fruit bunches is expected to reach 1.78 million tons in full-year 2017, from 1.66 million tons in the preceding year.

Future Forecast Astra Agro Lestari's Financial Highlights:

     2015    2016   2017F   2018F
Revenues 13,059.2 14,121.0 15,568.0 17,512.0
Net Income   619.1  2,007.0  2,174.0  2,329.0
EBITDA  2,777.0  3,728.0  4,035.0  4,356.0
P/E Ratio (x)
   40.3    16.1    13.5    12.6
EV/EBITDA (x)    11.8     9.7     8.2     7.5
ROE (x)     5.3    13.7    11.8    11.7

in billion IDR rupiah unless otherwise stated
Source: NH Korindo Sekuritas (27/03/2017)