* Q1 net profit jumps over 60 pct on higher oil prices
* Strong earnings to continue in 2012
* Concerns about capital raising weigh down stock
By Khettiya Jittapong
BANGKOK, April 25 Thailand's PTT Exploration and
Production Pcl (PTTEP), which is competing with Royal
Dutch Shell to buy Cove Energy, reported
profit that beat analysts' expectations as global oil prices
Thailand's second-most valuable company posted a more than
60 percent jump in first-quarter net income on Wednesday, but
its stock price was dragged down by speculation that PTTEP may
consider issuing more shares to fund its bid for the
Mozembique-focused energy explorer.
Shell agreed on Tuesday to acquire Cove Energy for 1.12
billion pounds ($1.8 billion), raising its offer to match
PTTEP's. Thailand's top oil and gas explorer
said it was currently considering its options.
The Bangkok-based company, valued at $19 billion, has been
aggressively seeking to acquire more overseas oil and gas assets
to boost reserves and earnings.
PTTEP, which is involved in more than 40 oil and gas
exploration and development projects, may deliver strong
earnings growth this year as global oil prices rise and output
increases, analysts say.
"The first-quarter results showed strong core operations for
PTTEP, a result of an increase in global crude prices, enabling
PTTEP to have more room to adjust selling prices," said Parin
Kitchatornpitak, an analyst at KTB Securities.
The broker has raised in its 2012 profit forecast for PTTEP
to a record high of about 60 billion baht ($1.9 billion).
PTTEP, a subsidiary of state-controlled PTT Pcl,
reported profit of 18.3 billion baht ($590 million) in the
January to March period, up from 10.97 billion a year earlier.
That beat an average forecast of 16 billion baht in a survey
of 10 analysts by Reuters.
First-quarter revenue rose 24 percent, with PTTEP's selling
prices during the period averaging $64.79 barrel of oil
equivalent versus $49.36 a year earlier.
Shares of PTTEP climbed as much as 1.4 percent to a
three-week high of 180 baht after the earnings announcement.
As of 0425 GMT, the stock erased its earlier gain and was
down 0.6 percent at 176.50 baht, while the broad market
was 0.09 percent lower.
According to Thomson Reuters StarMine, 10 of 23 analysts
rate PTTEP "buy" or "strong buy," with nine advising "hold" and
four saying "sell" or "strong sell".
PTTEP said it expects to start producing oil at the Montara
field in Australia in the fourth quarter.
In Myanmar, its unit PTTEP International has ceased
exploration at the M7 project since Feb. 1.
In the Gulf of Thailand, the Bongkot South field has started
test runs and is delivering 50 million-70 million cubic feet per
day (mcfpd) of natural gas and 3,000-4,000 barrels per day of
PTTEP expects the gas production rate will ramp up to 320
mcfpd and 9,000 bpd of condensate within the second quarter.