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MOL swings to Q4 profit, downstream remains weak

Hungary's MOL posted a fourth-quarter net profit of HUF 27.3 billion ($136.5 million), versus a loss in the year-ago period, as upstream performance improved while downstream remained weak.

However, excluding special items, MOL lost HUF 4.8 billion in the 2009 fourth quarter after a HUF 35.3 billion financial expense.

In the 2008 fourth quarter, MOL had a net loss of HUF 33.4 billion. MOL became the biggest shareholder of INA, of Croatia, last year with a 47% stake. It consolidated INA results into MOL group figures as of July 1, 2009, which makes year-on-year comparisons difficult.

MOL's operating profit, excluding special items, was HUF 25.8 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with a HUF 1.6 billion profit in the year-ago period and a HUF 41.2 billion profit in the third quarter.

Refining margins and demand remained depressed in the fourth quarter amid the global economic crisis. In the upstream segment, operating profit, excluding special items, was HUF 47.6 billion, up 24% year-on-year, including INA's contribution of HUF 18.4 billion.

MOL said the upstream result was lifted by higher production and higher average realized prices. This was partly offset by a stronger forint versus the US dollar. (Reuters)