HELPE’s core profit up, with higher goals

Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) shareholders approved a fiscal year 2004 total dividend of 26 cents, up 30 percent on the previous year, yielding 3.15 percent based on yesterday’s close. The refiner restated last year’s financial results under international financial reporting standards (IFRS) with net profit reported at 128 million euros, down 21 percent on 2003, but core profit (EBITDA) up 14 percent at 372 million. Group sales last year rose 7 percent to 4.9 billion euros. HELPE’s management told shareholders it is targeting a doubling of EBITDA to about 500-600 million euros by the end of 2009. The company, with a presence in Albania, Cyprus, Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, reported a 92 percent rise in first-quarter net profit to 55 million euros, boosted by high refining margins. CEO Panos Cavoulakos told shareholders the group plans to invest about 250 million euros in an electrical power unit under construction in Thessaloniki. HELPE is also planning a 350-million-euro bond issue to refinance existing debt. (Reuters)