(Adds details on oil&gas, crop chemicals)
By Ludwig Burger
FRANKFURT, Jan 18 (Reuters) - BASF said operating earnings jumped 32 percent last year, boosted by gains at its oil and gas as well as its crop protection units, the German chemicals maker said on Thursday, in an unscheduled release of unaudited figures.
“The BASF Group’s key earnings figures for the 2017 business year significantly exceed analyst estimates,” the company said on Thursday, adding that strong demand for its basic chemicals was offsetting the effect of higher input costs at its specialty products.
Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) for 2017, adjusted for one-offs, were up 32 percent at 8.3 billion euros ($10.4 billion), beating the average analyst estimate of 7.9 billion euros, according to a consensus posted on BASF’s website.
Net income gained 50 percent to 6.1 billion euros, ahead of the 5.3 billion seen by analysts.
The U.S. corporate tax reform led to a non-cash tax income benefit of almost 400 million euros in the fourth quarter of 2017, it added.
The Wintershall oil and gas division, which BASF is seeking to merge with Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s DEA , saw “significant earnings improvements”, the company said, without providing numbers.
Crude oil gained almost 17 percent in the last three months of 2017 and is now trading at two-year highs.
BASF’s crop chemicals unit is also perking up, after weak crop prices and an ongoing credit squeeze in Brazil earlier in 2017 hurt farmers and weighed on the business.
“Due to a strong earnings increase in the fourth quarter, EBIT before special items in the Agricultural Solutions segment almost matches the 2016 level,” it said.
Full audited results will be published on Feb. 27. ($1 = 0.8173 euros) (Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Gareth Jones)