OMV Q1 profit beats expectations, Libya helps

Austrian energy group OMV's first-quarter profit beat expectations as rising output from Libya helped earnings grow.

Clean CCS earnings before interest and tax - which exclude one-offs and unrealised gains from valuing inventories - rose 9 percent to 800 million euros ($1.04 billion), compared with a forecast for 755 million in a Reuters poll.

That beat even the highest estimate in the poll.

Libyan production at the end of April was running at 85-90 percent of levels achieved before the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, OMV said on Wednesday, adding it expected "fluctuations" in output there.

Chief Executive Gerhard Roiss said stronger oil prices and the very cold central European winter supported results in the quarter, while he expected margins for refining and marketing margins to remain under pressure this year.

Output from Libya, recovering from the turmoil of civil unrest, helped OMV boost production to 299,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) in the first quarter from 289,000 in the previous quarter, OMV had said last month.

Average production in Libya was around 25,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) in the quarter. This was partly offset by reduced production in Romania and lower volumes in New Zealand.

Libya had provided a tenth of OMV's global output in 2010, but production fell sharply when the revolt against Gaddafi's rule broke out, forcing OMV to withdraw staff for security reasons. OMV has a long-term stake there with 12 exploration and production licences and petroleum contracts running up to 2032.

The first quarter also saw the first successful Black Sea well, which OMV said in February could be its biggest gas find ever.

OMV shares have been trading at around 5.8 times 12-month forward earnings, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine, which weights analysts' estimates by previous accuracy.

That puts it at a discount to peers like Repsol, Eni and Total at 6.4 to 7 times.

($1 = 0.7695 euro)

(Source: Reuters)

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