* Q3 net income 305 bln rbls, above expected 278 bln
* More European clients ask to review gas price
* No retroactive payments to Europe in Q3
* Shares up 0.9 pct, above the market
* Negative free cash flow in Q3, 2012 capex revised up
(Adds detail on contract revisions, capex, EBITDA forecasts,
updates share price)
By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, Jan 17 Top Russian gas producer Gazprom
reported negative free cash flow in the third quarter,
increasing analysts' concerns about its heavy spending and
long-term prospects, even while it increased revenue and doubled
Gazprom, which supplies a quarter of Europe's gas, said on
Thursday it had raised capital spending by around 10 percent
from the previous quarter to 376.4 billion roubles ($12.4
billion) in the July-September quarter.
Operating cash flow plummeted 32 percent in the quarter to
258.3 billion roubles, and the company revised its capital
spending figure for the full year up to $44 billion.
"Our focus is on (free) cash flow, which was zero in the
third quarter," Stanislav Kondratiyev from Uralsib brokerage
Gazprom's Moscow-traded shares rose 0.9 percent in evening
trade, outperforming an increase of 0.55 percent in the broader
Some analysts dismissed the move, however, as an
insignificant "one-off" after its shares fell 18 percent in the
last 12 months while Gazprom has struggled with cost overruns
and reduced demand in Europe.
The Russian gas export monopoly said on Thursday that more
European customers had filed requests for price revisions, which
could reduce revenue.
"The market is not paying big attention to the third-quarter
results of the company, which are outdated. The profit was a
'paper' one, from a forex gain," Sergey Vakhrameyev from
Metropol brokerage said.
"The main fear is that the company could end up with a
negative free cash flow for the year," he added.
SPENDING ON NEW FIELDS
Gazprom has directed the bulk of investment to develop major
fields, such as Bovanenkovo, in new regions such as the Yamal
Peninsula in the Arctic as it seeks to stem a decline in gas
"Gazprom spent heavily on the Bovanenkovo field and adjacent
infrastructure," Kondratiyev said.
Analysts say that while Gazprom needs to invest to ensure
stable gas production, the level of spending is high and the
company is not doing enough to ensure that it is cost-efficient.
"Gazprom even may borrow money to pay dividends,"
Vakhrameyev said, adding that the company aims to pay at least
25 percent of its income as dividends, or as much as $7 billion
for the year.
Its July-September 2012 net profit attributable to
shareholders rose to 305.1 billion roubles from 152 billion in
the year-earlier period, above the 287 billion forecast in a
Reuters poll of analysts.
Gazprom expects earnings before interest, taxes and
amortization (EBITA) of $54 billion to $55 billion in 2012, down
from 1.93 trillion roubles ($63.6 billion) in 2011.
The third-quarter profit figure included a gain of 92.7
billion roubles from changes in the rouble exchange rate against
the dollar and euro.
Gazprom is rated BBB with a stable outlook by both Fitch and
Standard & Poor's.
In the third quarter, gas sales to Europe rose 14 percent to
404.7 billion roubles versus the quarter a year ago, Gazprom
The company did not provide figures on volume sales for the
quarter. For the nine months, sales to Europe declined to 111.4
bcm from 114.8 bcm in the same period of 2011, it said.
Total revenues for the quarter rose 16 percent to 1.1
trillion roubles, beating analysts' expectations of 971.5
Gazprom has agreed to adjust long-term deals with key
European customers, who have said Russian gas prices are too
Sergei Chelpanov, Gazprom Export's deputy director, told a
conference call that more European clients have asked for
contract revisions as their existing deals are about to expire.
He named France's Gaz de France, Germany's Wingas
and Austria's EconGas among those who have asked for
The company said its retroactive payments to European
companies amounted to 133.2 billion roubles for the first nine
months of the year, unchanged from the first half, meaning that
Gazprom did not make any such payments in the third quarter.
($1 = 30.3272 Russian roubles)
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; additional reporting by Denis
Pinchuk; Editing by Megan Davies and Jane Baird)