* Sees underlying profit growth of 15 percent in year ahead
* Targets 10-15 pct underlying profit growth in medium term
* Flags potential write-off in exploration expense
(Adds details on outlook)
PERTH, Aug 19 Origin Energy Ltd (ORG.AX),
Australia's No. 2 power retailer, sees profit growth slowing
next year after beating forecasts with a 20 percent rise in
full-year underlying profit on Wednesday.
Origin, a partner with U.S. firm ConocoPhillips (COP.N) in
a proposed liquefied natural gas project in Australia, said
underlying profit for the current financial year is expected to
rise around 15 percent, and average between 10-15 percent in
the years ahead.
The company said earnings will be driven by the completion
of more new power generators, a wind development, regulated
electricity price increases in Queensland state and a better
performance from its 50-percent owned Contact Energy (CEN.NZ)
unit in New Zealand.
Underlying net profit in the year ended June 30 was A$530
million ($438 million), compared with A$443 million a year ago.
Analysts on average had expected A$523.7 million.
Origin said it is beginning a sizeable offshore exploration
programme in south Australia to boost its reserves for the
domestic market, with the initial five-well campaign expected
to cost around A$100 million.
But it said some parts of the programme may be unsuccessful
and could lead to a substantial write-off of exploration
expenses in the current financial year.
Origin declared a final dividend of 25 cents per share,
double the amount paid last year.
Origin's shares inched up by 0.6 percent to A$15.10. They
have fallen 7 percent so far this year against a 17.7 percent
rise in the broader market .
($1=1.210 Australian Dollar)
(Reporting by Fayen Wong)