* Holds on to $2.68 bln in cash for growth
* Net profit rises to $1.1 bln, meets forecasts
* Hikes dividend 34 pct to 111 cents a share
(Adds CEO comment, revenue, share price performance)
MELBOURNE, Aug 20 Woodside Petroleum Ltd
delivered a 27 percent rise in half-year net profit on
Wednesday, in line with market forecasts, as output from the
Pluto liquefied natural gas project increased and prices rose.
Woodside held back on returning capital to shareholders
beyond a 34 percent increase in its dividend, despite holding
$2.68 billion in cash after shareholders rejected a plan for it
to buy back part of its top shareholder Royal Dutch Shell's
stake in the company.
Instead, Australia's biggest oil and gas producer touted its
cash on hand and $1.6 billion in debt facilities as a source to
"We continue to only pursue those opportunities where we see
value for our shareholders," Woodside Chief Executive Peter
Coleman said in a statement.
Woodside gave no outlook for the rest of the year, other
than to reaffirm its recently raised raised production target of
89 to 94 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe).
Net profit rose to $1.11 billion for the six months to June
from $873 million a year earlier, in line with estimates of
around $1.1 billion from four analysts. It announced an interim
dividend of 111 cents a share, slightly higher than some
Revenue rose 24 percent to a record $3.6 billion, thanks to
higher selling prices for its Pluto LNG and bigger volumes as
Pluto output proved more reliable and production resumed at its
After scrapping a deal to buy a 25 percent stake in Israel's
massive Leviathan gas field earlier this year and with strong
cash flows from Pluto LNG, the company is under pressure to make
an acquisition to fill a gap in its growth prospects ahead of
the development of its next big project, most likely the Browse
floating LNG project.
Without an acquisition, it is counting on a fresh push in
exploration to build up its reserves, having recently picked up
acreage in Myanmar, Morocco, Tanzania and Gabon.
Woodside's shares have risen 9.9 percent this year,
outperforming a 4.4 percent rise in the broader market.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin)