UPDATE 1-Salmon farming firm Mowi's Q4 profit lags forecast

(Adds details on production and background)

OSLO, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Norway’s Mowi, the world’s largest fish farming company, said on Thursday its fourth-quarter profit fell more than expected amid a drop in salmon prices.

The company’s preliminary report showed that operating profit for October-December declined 22.5% to 165 million euros ($184 million), lagging an average forecast of 178.4 million in a Refinitiv poll of analysts.

Mowi, a part of billionaire investor John Fredriksen’s business empire, harvested 116,000 tonnes of salmon in the final three months of 2019, up from 106,000 a year earlier.

Fourth-quarter output exceeded the 110,400 tonnes the company had forecast in late-October.

Statistics Norway data showed salmon export prices were lower in October and November than prior year, although prices increased in the final weeks of 2019.

Mowi’s share price climbed 23% in the last 12 months, and is up 10-fold in the last eight years as demand for salmon continues to grow.

The company’s full earnings report for the fourth quarter is due on Feb. 12.

$1=0.8969 euros Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Sherry Jacob-Phillips