MOSCOW Novatek (NVTK.MM), Russia's No.2 gas producer, posted a 17 percent gain in third-quarter earnings, beating market expectations thanks to higher gas production and prices, results showed on Wednesday.
Earnings at Novatek, set to become the first private Russian producer to export liquefied natural gas (LNG), came in at 23.5 billion roubles ($722 million). That beat expectations of a 10 percent rise in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Novatek said its revenues gained by 44 percent, year-on-year, to 75.6 billion roubles, "largely due to an increase in sales volumes and average sales prices of natural gas and liquid hydrocarbons".
Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) added 30 percent to 32.9 billion roubles. Both EBITDA and revenues also beat expectations. The company's free cash flow was at 9.7 billion roubles in the third quarter.
Since influential commodities trader Gennady Timchenko became a shareholder in 2008, Novatek has won a string of industry supply deals and grabbed market share from the dominant supplier, state-controlled Gazprom (GAZP.MM).
Novatek also stands to be the first gas independent to benefit from the liberalisation of Russian exports of LNG from the start of next year, as its $20-billion Yamal LNG plant is due to come onstream by 2017.
Chairman Leonid Mikhelson and Total (TOTF.PA) of France are also large shareholders. Novatek shares added 0.8 percent to trade at 417.5 roubles, close to highs last seen in April 2012. ($1 = 32.5515 Russian roubles)
(Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Douglas Busvine)