Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hedging helps Romania's Petrom beat forecasts

* Q3 net profit down 2 pct at 615 mln lei

* Beats expectations, oil price hedging helps

* Says will stay within 4.7 bln lei 2009 capex plan

* Sees weaker leu EURRON= in Q4, slower GDP contraction

BUCHAREST, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Petrom SNPP.BX, Romania's biggest oil and gas group, posted a small drop in its third-quarter net profit on Tuesday, easily beating market expectations with the help of oil price hedging gains.

The company, majority owned by Austria's OMV (OMVV.VI), said its net profit fell 2 percent to 615 million lei ($214 million), which compared with an average forecast in a Reuters poll of 315 million lei.

"Net profit was supported by the positive hedging result," it said in a statement sent to the Bucharest bourse.

Hedging generated a financial gain of 126 million lei.

Its operating profit (EBIT) rose 10 percent to 705 million lei, with last year's result burdened by an impairment at its Arpechim refinery.

In the first nine months of this year Petrom's capex stood at 2.7 billion lei, compared with a 4.7 billion full-year plan. It said investment will be kept within the budget, while mid-term spending plans were still under review.

Petrom said it expected Romania's economy to remain vulnerable in the short-term, especially after the International Monetary Fund suspended its cash disbursements until the country forms a government.

"In the short term the leu is likely to depreciate against both the EUR and the USD," it said.

However, it said it expected the economy to slow down its decline in the fourth quarter. ($1=2.869 lei) (Reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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