February 21, 2017 / 10:27 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 2-Galp plans expansion in Brazil, raises earnings outlook

* EBITDA growth forecast raised to 20 pct a year

* Annual capex cut to 0.8-1 bln euros to 2021

* Production growth trimmed to 15-20 pct a year (Adds details, background, CEO comment, analyst comment)

By Andrei Khalip and Karolin Schaps

LISBON/LONDON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Galp Energia plans to expand further in Brazil, seeing access to plentiful resources at low costs in oil and gas exploration, and raised its earnings growth outlook saying reduced spending will help its bottom line.

The company, which is mainly an oil refiner, cut back annual spending by 20 percent to between 0.8 billion and 1 billion euros ($850 to $1 billion) until 2021 as it accounts for weaker oil prices. This meant a weaker production growth forecast of 15-20 percent a year until 2021, down from 25-30 percent previously.

Most of Galp’s production growth will come from Brazil, where it has stakes in large offshore oil fields and continues to look for expansion opportunities, its Chief Executive told investors.

“It makes sense to deepen our presence in Brazil. We are prepared to redeploy some of our capital,” said Galp CEO Carlos Gomes da Silva.

The oil company’s cash flow rose to 558 million euros in the fourth quarter, nearly doubling year on year, and it raised its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) growth rate to around 20 percent a year until 2021, up from the previous forecast of 15 percent.

This year, it expects an EBITDA of 1.5 billion to 1.6 billion euros. Earlier on Tuesday, Galp reported an 8 percent drop in 2016 EBITDA to 1.41 billion euros, which exceeded its forecast of 1.2 billion to 1.3 billion euros.

Galp shares were down 0.5 percent at 1303 GMT.

Cost cuts mean that Galp expects to break even at oil prices below $35 a barrel in 2019-21, down from a breakeven price of $65 a barrel in 2016-18.

“Galp’s balance sheet is one of the strongest amongst the EU IOCs (integrated oil companies) and the industry continues to validate the quality of Galp’s upstream assets,” said analysts at Jefferies, who recommend buying the stock. ($1 = 0.9494 euros) (Editing by Jane Merriman/Ruth Pitchford)

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