March 14, 2018 / 5:19 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil's Petrobras Distribuidora expects 2018 fuel imports to fall

(Adds CEO quote, context, share price)

By Marta Nogueira

SAO PAULO, March 14 (Reuters) - Brazilian fuel distribution company Petrobras Distribuidora SA forecast on Wednesday a drop in fuel imports this year from 2017 partly due to a more aggressive pricing policy by state-run Petroleo Brasileiro.

Speaking on a conference call to discuss quarterly results, Chief Executive Ivan de Sá also cited falling margins for companies that typically import fuel.

“The difference between this year and last is that gains from fuel imports are a lot lower,” de Sá said, mentioning a more hawkish stance by Petrobras, as the state-run oil company is known, to market its products.

He did not say by how much fuel imports would fall.

Petrobras Distribuidora, which is majority-owned by Petrobras, beat fourth-quarter profit estimates on Tuesday, as it maintained strong profit margins despite slipping market share.

Its shares opened 4 percent higher on the São Paulo Stock Exchange, at 23.30 reais, after the results and an announcement that it would pay 1 billion reais ($306.5 million) in dividends.

In its first earnings report since a December initial public offering, the company posted net income of 531 million reais, well above a consensus estimate compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Petrobras raked in more than 5 billion reais late last year when it floated a 30 percent stake in the unit. ($1 = 3.2628 reais) (Reporting by Marta Nogueira Writing by Ana Mano Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas)

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