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Stocks

Astra International slips on weak equipment, auto sales

SINGAPORE -- Astra International shares have slid for three days straight on the Indonesian market under the weight of sluggish vehicle and machinery sales in the January-March quarter.

The Indonesian conglomerate shed 1.47% Thursday to close at 6,725 rupiah. First-quarter earnings announced Tuesday showed net profit 22% below the year-earlier level at 3.11 trillion rupiah ($235 million). Sales dropped 7% to 41.88 trillion rupiah.

Net profit from heavy equipment and mining operations fell 55% to 442 billion rupiah for the quarter. Sales of construction machinery from Japan's Komatsu, distributed in Indonesia by Astra subsidiary United Tractors, took a steep tumble.

Automobile and motorbike operations struggled as well, with net profit dropping 3% to 1.58 trillion rupiah. "Overall automotive demand softened slightly during the period," the company said. New products lifted Honda Motor distributor Astra Honda Motor's share of the motorcycle market from 68% to 72%. But sales volume slipped slightly.

Profit on banking and other financial services operations sank 46%.

"Trading conditions are expected to remain challenging" as sluggish automotive demand and a weak commodities market continue, the company said.

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