* Net profit rises 53 percent vs year earlier
* Analysts expected 4th-qtr profit of 6.21 bln reais
* Exploration costs, financial gains soar; taxes fall
RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 4 Brazil's state-led oil
company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, said on Monday that
fourth-quarter net profit rose 53 percent from a year earlier
after higher fuel prices, lower taxes and financial gains helped
make up for rising operational costs.
Consolidated net income attributable to shareholders was
7.75 billion reais ($3.89 billion) in the three months ending
Dec. 31, the Rio de Janeiro-based company said in a filing with
Brazil's CVM securities regulator.
The results beat investor expectations. The average
fourth-quarter profit estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by
Reuters was 6.21 billion reais.
The increase, though, was not enough to prevent the
company's worst annual result in eight years. Full-year 2012
profit of 21.2 billion reais was 36 percent less than in 2011
owing to soaring costs and a second-quarter loss, the company's
first in 13 years.
Net sales, or sales minus sales taxes, rose to 73.4 billion
reais, a 12.5 percent increase compared with the fourth quarter
Costs, though, ate up much of the sales gain. Adjusted
earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization,
or EBITDA, fell 15 percent from a year earlier to 11.94 billion
reais. EBITDA is a measure of a company's ability to generate
profit from operations.
Among the factors limiting EBITDA was a 43 percent increase
in exploration and extraction costs, which climbed to 2.15
billion reais. The cost of goods sold rose 19 percent, while
general and administrative expenses rose 8.3 percent.
The impact of higher operational costs was eased by a nearly
four-fold increase in financial earnings to 2.79 billion reais.
The financial result was led by the sale of 2.64 billion reais
of Brazilian Treasury bonds that Petrobras held in its
portfolio, the company said.
Also bringing relief was a big drop in income and Social
Security taxes, which fell by nearly two-thirds to 942 million
reais in the fourth quarter from 2.76 billion reais a year
The average sales estimate in the Reuters survey of analysts
was 73.8 billion reais. The average EBITDA estimate was 14.2