Archive for April, 2011

Finmeccanica 1Q earns down 92 percent

Thursday, April 28th, 2011 | Finance News

MILAN – Italian defense and aerospace company Finmeccanica SpA says first-quarter earnings dropped by 92 percent due to higher financial expenses and lower energy and aeronautics revenues.

Net profit for the first quarter was euro7 million ($10.36 million), down from euro91 million in the same period a year ago.

Much of the decrease was due to higher financial expenses on interest rate swaps, which the company said should be mostly contained to the first quarter.

Core earnings before interest and tax were down 14 percent, to euro215 million. Aeronautics revenues were down 4 percent to euro567 million, and energy was down 21 percent to euro266 million.

Finmeccanica, based in Rome, said Thursday it is integrating units to confront slower growth.

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Exxon, Shell profits surge on higher oil prices

Thursday, April 28th, 2011 | Finance News

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc posted steep jumps in first-quarter profits and beat analysts' forecasts, helped by high oil prices and buoyant refining margins.

Profits for the world's biggest oil producers have surged as oil prices moved above $100 per barrel in the first quarter on unrest in the Middle East and Africa and growing global demand for energy.

Exxon, the world's largest publicly listed company, posted a 69 percent increase in earnings to $10.65 billion, its biggest profit since the third-quarter of 2008, when oil prices last traded above $100 per barrel.

The company was alone among its Western peers to so far record an increase in production in the quarter, notching up a 10 percent increase from a year-earlier to 4.82 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), helped by its takeover of U.S. natural gas company XTO last year.

Shell's earnings rose 22 percent to $6.9 billion, although asset sales pressured its oil and gas output down 3 percent 3.50 million boepd.

Still, that decline was more modest than the 11 percent drop that BP Plc reported on Wednesday and 7 percent drop in ConocoPhillips's output.

BP has been selling assets to pay the more than $40 billion in liabilities it racked up from the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, while Conoco had been shedding assets to pare its debt load.

GAS BUBBLES UP

Shell, the largest shipper of liquefied natural gas, also benefited from higher LNG prices following the Japanese earthquake, which was expected to lead to higher LNG demand in that country as nuclear power is scaled back.

That LNG strength, plus a number of large projects coming on stream this year, sparked hopes that Shell could join Exxon and Chevron in raising its dividend payments to shareholders.

Exxon raised its second-quarter payout 7 percent on Wednesday, while Chevron, while boosted its dividend 8 percent.

Chevron is due to release its quarterly earnings on Friday.

Fatter profit margins at both Exxon and Shell refineries that process crude oil into products such as gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel also helped their quarterly earnings.

Exxon also benefited from a jump in earnings from its chemicals arm, which recorded $1.5 billion in profits in the quarter. The company is the second largest U.S. chemicals maker behind Dow Chemical.

"It looks like chemical was really strong," Phil Weiss, oil analyst at Argus Research, said about Exxon's earnings. "And production came in on the higher side relative to my expectations, especially gas."

Shares in Shell rose 0.7 percent to 2325.5 pence on the London Stock Exchange, while Exxon shares were off 0.5 percent to $87.35 on the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S. oil and gas companies Apache Corp and Occidental Petroleum Corp both reported earnings that topped Wall Street forecasts, lifting their share prices.

(Additional reporting by Marie Maitre in Paris, Anna Driver in Houston and Braden Reddall in San Francisco)

(Reporting by Matt Daily; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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IMF in talks with Portugal ‘as long as necessary’

Thursday, April 28th, 2011 | Finance News

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The International Monetary Fund will negotiate the terms of a financial rescue with Portugal as long as it takes to reach an agreement, an IMF spokesman said on Thursday.

"Negotiations are ongoing and will continue as long as needed," spokesman David Hawley said at a news briefing at the IMF headquarters in Washington.

"All parties involved understand the importance of reaching an agreement. I don't want to be drawn on a date specific," Hawley added.

Officials from the "troika" of the European Central Bank, European Union and IMF are currently in Lisbon negotiating the terms of financial rescue package expected to total nearly 80 billion euros ($118 billion).

Portugal's outgoing Prime Minister Jose Socrates said on Thursday the bailout plan should be drafted by mid-May to present to eurozone finance ministers on May 16.

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