UPDATE 1-Australia's Caltex shares fall after margin warning

Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:34pm EDT

* Says Q1 operating up 33 pct to A$130 mln on strong margins

* Margins deteriorating; cautious on H2

* Decision soon on acquisition of ExxonMobil service stations (Recast, adds details)

PERTH, April 22 (Reuters) - Shares of Caltex Australia Ltd (CTX.AX), the country's largest oil refiner, fell more than 3.5 percent on Thursday after the company said its short-term margin outlook was challenging.

Caltex said its first-quarter operating profit jumped 33 percent to A$130 million on healthy margins, but cooled expectations as margins trends have reversed in recent weeks and demand looked weak.

"While the short term outlook for Caltex is challenging because of depressed demand globally and growth in global refining capacity, the medium to long term outlook for the company remains positive," Managing Director Julian Segal said at the company's annual general meeting.

At 0118 GMT, Calex shares traded down 3.1 percent at A$11.89 after falling to a low of A$11.82 earlier.

Caltex said its replacement cost of sales operating profit, which strips out the impact of oil price fluctuations, was A$130 million ($120.5 million) in the quarter ended March, compared with A$98 million the same last year.

Caltex also said it expects to announce its decision shortly on what action it would take on its proposed acquisition of ExxonMobil (XOM.N) gas service stations in Australia, which was blocked by the competition regulator in December.

For the company's report to Thursday's AGM, click:

link.reuters.com/dyz78j (Reporting by Fayen Wong)

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California state worker Albert Jagow (L) goes over his retirement options with Calpers Retirement Program Specialist JeanAnn Kirkpatrick at the Calpers regional office in Sacramento, California October 21, 2009. Calpers, the largest U.S. public pension fund, manages retirement benefits for more than 1.6 million people, with assets comparable in value to the entire GDP of Israel. The Calpers investment portfolio had a historic drop in value, going from a peak of $250 billion in the fall of 2007 to $167 billion in March 2009, a loss of about a third during that period. It is now around $200 billion. REUTERS/Max Whittaker   (UNITED STATES) - RTXPWOZ

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