The West

Graincorp has lifted first half profit by more than 50 per cent and upgraded its full-year forecast as grain volumes and sales improve.

The grain trader posted a net profit of $133.7 million for the six months to March 31, up 52.5 per cent on $87.7 million in the previous corresponding period.

Chief executive Alison Watkins said the company now expected to make a full year net profit of between $185 million and $205 million, up from its previous $165 million to $185 million forecast.

A strong number of export bookings and improving sales of malt contributed to the profit forecast upgrade, she said.

Graincorp says it expects to export about 10 million tonnes of grain in the year to the end of September.

"In addition, we are anticipating slightly stronger malt sales of 1.35 million tonnes," Ms Watkins said in a statement.

"Our marketing business domestic and export programs are in line with expectations.

"Looking further ahead, crop forecasts generally were positive and planting had begun, she said.

"Most growers in eastern Australia would like good rains in the next few weeks to ensure their crops have a positive start so as to make use of the good subsoil moisture already present," Ms Watkins said.

Graincorp's first half result benefited from higher earnings from each of its four main businesses.

Country and Logistics, which involves grain storage and transport, almost doubled its first half earnings to $73 million due to higher volumes and lower harvesting costs.

The ports and shipping business increased its earnings by $24 million from the previous corresponding period to $74 million, as grain exports hit record levels.

GrainCorp declared a fully-franked interim dividend of 15 cents per share, plus a fully-franked special dividend of 15 cents.

The West Australian

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