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OMV Q4 profit gains, helped by retail sales

OMV AG, Central Europe’s biggest oil company, said fourth-quarter profit gained 25%, helped by its expansion in Tureky and increased sales at filling stations on warmer-than-average weather.

Net income gained to €295 million ($386.5 million), or 99 cents a share, from €237 million, or 79 cents a share, in the year-earlier period, OMV AG said in an e-mailed statement today. That beat the €232 million estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. For 2007, „the macro environment is anticipated to be more challenging than in 2006,” Vienna-based OMV said in the statement. Oil prices will fall and refining margins will stay at a ‘similar’ level, according to OMV.

OMV, led by Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer, 56, has been investing in Romania and Turkey, where demand for gasoline and diesel is expected to rise faster than in Western Europe. Sales at filling stations were up 10% in the quarter compared with a year ago, helped by an increase in filling stations, upgraded stations and warmer-than-average weather. OMV reduced the loss before interest and taxes at the refining and marketing unit to €44 million compared with a loss of €101 million a year earlier. Higher retail sales and income from the petrochemicals business helped offset a decline in refining margins.

OMV plans to invest about €2 billion into its existing operations each year in coming years, 900 million of which will go to its Romanian unit, SNP Petrom SA, the company said. „First successes” of these investments will become visible at Petrom’s exploration and production unit towards the end of this year, OMV said. For the Petrom refineries, „gradual improvements are expected,” while the most significant earnings improvements will not become visible until after the completion of the large interments in 20011,” OMV said. For the full-year, OMV plans to pay a dividend of €1.05, compared with 90 cents for 2005. (Bloomberg)