May 11, 2012 / 2:07 PM / in 6 years

Alliance Grain delays Canada pasta plant, shares dive

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, May 11 (Reuters) - Alliance Grain Traders Inc shares dived as much as 6 percent on Friday after the company reported sharply weaker quarterly earnings and said it was delaying plans for a pasta plant.

After markets closed on Thursday, Alliance said it has delayed plans for Western Canada’s first major durum-processing plant - a project that the Conservative government has held up as an example of good things to come from the end of the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly.

Alliance also reported first-quarter earnings of C$2.8 million, or 14 Canadian cents per share, down from C$7.2million, or 36 Canadian cents a share in the year-ago period. Demand for pulse crops like lentils has slumped from importers in countries such as Turkey due to decreasing available credit.

The company is cutting capital costs as it seeks to restore profits, said Huseyin Arslan, executive chairman of Alliance’s board, in a release on Thursday.

Construction of the pasta plant, announced last year, will now start in 2013, a year later than expected, as Alliance monitors changes in the North American grain industry, such as the end of the Wheat Board’s grain monopoly and the pending sale of top grain handler Viterra Inc to Swiss commodities trader Glencore International PLC, the company said.

Alliance shares were down 54 Canadian cents or 4.4 percent to C$11.70. (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Janet Guttsman)

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