Austrian oil and gas group OMV reported a worse-than-expected 56% fall in underlying operating earnings in the fourth quarter as the low oil price hit its results.
Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) fell to €301 million ($385.7 million) after stripping off one-off items in the three months to December, OMV said in a statement on Wednesday. Analysts on average had forecast a 49% drop to €351 million. OMV's net loss after minorities was €208 million.
OMV said earnings had also been hit by foreign exchange losses at Turkish affiliate Petrol Ofisi and reduced market demand at Borealis. “For 2009 we expect the main market drivers -- crude price, refining margins and the (euro vs dollar) exchange rate -- to remain highly volatile,” OMV said. It will pay a dividend of €1 for 2008, down from €1.25 the previous year.
CEO Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer said in December he expected 2009 earnings to fall as the global economic downturn weighs down demand and oil prices fall.
OMV shares have lost over half their value in the last six months, partly on market worries about emerging European exposure. They have underperformed the DJ Stoxx European oil and gas sector index, which has fallen some 30% in the same period. (Reuters)