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BANGKOK, Jan 30 (Reuters) - PTT Exploration and Production Pcl (PTTEP), Thailand's top oil and gas explorer, reported a 47 percent drop in quarterly net profit on Thursday, lagging forecasts, mainly due to higher operating expenses and foreign exchange losses.
PTTEP, the flagship upstream oil exploration business of state-controlled PTT Pcl, posted a net profit of $238 million for the October-December quarter, down from $449 million in the same year ago period.
That was closer to half of the 13.6 billion baht ($413 million) average forecast of 10 analysts polled by Reuters.
PTTEP, one of Thailand's biggest firms, is feeling the pinch from the weakness of the local currency. The baht, hit by months of political unrest, has fallen since October and was trading at around four-year-lows against the dollar earlier this month.
The company is also likely to suffer from a drop in domestic demand for natural gas as the anti-government protests put the brakes on Thailand's economic growth, analysts said.
PTTEP shares, valued at $19 billion on the Thai bourse, have fallen 7 percent in the past three months, still outperforming a 12 percent drop on the broad index. Before earnings announcement, the stock closed down 0.64 percent. ($1 = 32.93 Baht) (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Miral Fahmy)