ELPE 9-month profit surges

Refinery group Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) beat market expectations yesterday by posting an almost 39 percent year-on-year rise in nine-month group pretax profits and added it expected even better full-year results. Pretax profit came in at 232.8 million euros ($267 million), with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rising 34 percent to 315.5 million euros. The results under International Accounting Standards (IAS) did not incorporate smaller former rival Petrola, which merged with Hellenic, Greece’s largest refinery, in September. Petrola figures would be incorporated from October 1 onward, Hellenic said. The new group will have an 80 percent domestic market share. A Reuters poll forecast a rise of around 26 percent in nine-month pretax profits to 212 million euros, with EBITDA coming in at 294.3 million, up 21 percent from a year earlier. «The healthy growth in the demand for oil products in the eastern Mediterranean market and the improvement in international refining margins during the fourth quarter of this year allow us to expect even better results for the full year,» Hellenic’s chairman George Moraitis told a news conference. He added that full-year forecasts led them to guarantee that a dividend issue this year would be more generous than last year’s 0.15-euro payment. Referring to Hellenic’s participation in the privatization race for Romania’s national oil firm SNP Petrom, CEO Athanassios Karachalios said Hellenic would only participate as part of a strong consortium. Karachalios added that Hellenic was carrying on its expansion strategy with plans to expand its network of gas stations, while it was working on exploration opportunities in Libya. (Reuters)