February 27, 2020 / 6:52 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Shipper Frontline warns on virus impact after Q4 profit surge

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OSLO, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Oil tanker firm Frontline warned on Thursday that the coronavirus outbreak will hurt its results in the near term, even as the group reported sharp gains in earnings for the final quarter of 2019.

Frontline’s net profit for the October-December period rose fourfold year-on-year to an 11-year high of $108.8 million, but still lagging an average forecast of $127.1 million in a Refinitiv poll of analysts.

“Primarily due to the effect of the coronavirus, we have a near-term macro headwind with a slowdown in oil demand, particularly in China,” Chief Executive Robert Hvide Macleod said in a statement.

“We can’t forecast the duration of this impact, but once the coronavirus is contained Frontline is exceptionally well positioned for the strong rebound we believe will follow,” he added.

Frontline will pay a dividend of $0.4 per share for the fourth quarter, in line with a promise that the payout would be “well in excess” of the $0.1 paid in the third quarter.

Analysts on average expected a dividend of $0.29 per share.

Frontline’s ambition is to continue to pay “significant dividends”, the CEO said. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Nerijus Adomaitis)

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