26 abril 2007

LUKOIL 2006 net rises 16 pct, misses forecast

Russia's top oil firm, LUKOIL (LUKOY.PK), reported a 16 percent rise in its 2006 net profits on Tuesday due to increased production, but the figure slightly missed a forecast by analysts.

The company said its profits rose to $7.48 billion from $6.44 billion in 2005. Analysts had expected the firm to report a profit of $7.87 billion.

Revenues rose 21 percent to $68.11 billion - in line with the forecast - on the back of stronger oil and gas output, which LUKOIL said had risen by 12.2 percent last year to 2.145 million barrels of oil equivalent.

"The increase in net income was due to favourable market conditions, increase in hydrocarbon production and refinery throughputs, cost control and refining margins growth," said LUKOIL, 20-percent controlled by U.S. ConocoPhillips (COP).

"The net income growth was held back by strengthening of the rouble against the dollar and growth of the tax burden. The company's tax expenses totaled $24.4 billion, up 30.4 percent year-on-year," LUKOIL said in a statement.

It also said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 18 percent to $12.30 billion, also slightly missing a forecast of $12.62 billion. Operating expenses rose by a third to $4.66 billion


LUKOIL, which started a new $3 billion buy-back programme in January, said it had spent $782 million last year on buy-backs and had 23.6 million of its own shares or 2.8 percent of its charter capital on its balance sheet.

The firm, which has a market value of $71.5 billion, exported half its crude output last year or 886,000 barrels per day, a cut of 35,000 bpd from 2005 as it increased refining to benefit from higher oil products prices in Russia and abroad.

LUKOIL, which owns four refineries in Russia and three plants abroad, said oil products output rose by 3.4 percent to 45.7 million tonnes in 2006.

The firm said it would complete the purchase of 376 retail stations in six European countries from its partner Conoco in the second quarter of 2007.

LUKOIL has said the network purchase would help it increase sales by 1.4 million tonnes of products per year in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Belgium, Poland, Slovakia and Finland.

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