* EBITDA falls 17 pct to 95 bln forints vs 97.5 bln analyst
* Q2 daily output 92,000 barrels/day
* Sees output rise to 105,000-110,000 bpd in 2015
* Net profit 24 bln forints vs 18.9 bln year earlier
(Adds CFO comments, share price)
By Krisztina Than
BUDAPEST, Aug 1 Hungarian oil group MOL
expects to meet its forecasts of rising crude output
through 2018 on the back of investments in fields including in
Iraq's Kurdistan region, it said on Friday after posting a sharp
drop in production in the past quarter.
Budapest-based MOL, which reported a 17 percent drop in core
earnings or EBITDA in the second quarter, mainly due to weak
results in its upstream operations, said it still expected to
meet its 2015 and 2018 output targets.
MOL's average daily output was 92,000 barrels per day in the
second quarter, falling 7 percent from the first quarter and
13.4 percent in annual terms.
"Looking ahead, we are confident that we can meet our
production forecasts," CFO Jozsef Simola said in a video
interview posted on MOL's website.
Simola said output was expected to rise to between 105,000
and 110,000 barrels per day in 2015 and to 125,000-135,000 by
2018, in line with MOL's targets set out earlier.
Tamas Pletser, an oil sector analyst at banking group Erste,
said the targets looked realistic, provided MOL is able to
export its crude drilled in the Kurdistan region where political
risks are the main obstacle.
MOL shares were 0.4 percent higher at 0710 GMT, in line with
the main BUX index. The stock has underperformed the
Budapest market in the past three months, falling 10.3 percent,
while the BUX gained 1.2 percent, according to Reuters data.
MOL operates refineries in Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia. It
also has exploration and production assets in the North Sea and
countries including Pakistan, Iraq and Russia.
The company's so-called "clean" EBITDA fell to 95 billion
forints in the second quarter versus the 97.5 billion estimate
of eight analysts polled by business website Portfolio.hu.
Pletser noted that while the result was not a big surprise,
a tug-of-war between the Croatian government and MOL over the
future of Croatian subsidiary INA would continue to
weigh on MOL's share price.
MOL is INA's biggest shareholder with just under 50 percent,
while the Croatian government holds nearly 45 percent.
The two have been at odds over management rights and
investment policy. MOL has said it was prepared to sell its
stake in INA if no agreement on the future partnership with
Zagreb was reached relatively soon.
"The INA situation is influencing negatively the share price
but we continue our strategy and do everything which is in our
hand to resolve this issue," Simola said in the video.
He said MOL had a strong balance sheet which would enable it
to continue its growth strategy "with or without INA."
The group's upstream business reported a 25 percent decline
in EBITDA excluding special items to 60.6 billion forints, due
to falling natural gas prices in Croatia, the sale of a field in
Russia and increased royalties paid in Croatia.
Its downstream business continued to suffer from a weak
"A 19 percent drop of gasoil crack spreads dampened the
refining segment's performance, as gasoil and other middle
distillates represents roughly 50 percent of the product slate,"
MOL said, adding that a planned outage at its Slovak refinery
also weighed on the result.
Net profit rose 27 percent to 24 billion forints ($102.5
million) in the second quarter from 18.9 billion in the same
period of 2013, partly due to a lower tax charge.
($1 = 234.1400 Hungarian Forints)
(Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and David Holmes)