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Petrobras Profit Beats Estimates on Gasoline Sales, Exports

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the world’s fifth-largest oil company by market value, said first-quarter profit topped analysts’ expectations because of increased revenue from gasoline sales and higher crude exports.

Net income dropped 16 percent to 9.2 billion reais ($4.6 billion), or 71 centavos a share, from 10.99 billion reais, or 84 centavos, a year earlier, Brazil’s state-controlled producer said today in a statement. Per-share profit beat the 64-centavo average of four analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Petrobras increased prices for gasoline and diesel by 10 percent and 2 percent, respectively, on Nov. 1 to reduce the discount with international prices, the first boost in more than three years. Oil exports rose 20 percent to 497,000 barrels a day after the company sold inventories it accumulated in late 2011, Petrobras said in a regulatory filing.

“We had more exports at higher prices,” Chief Financial Officer Almir Barbassa said at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro. “We sold more (gasoline) at higher prices as a result of the price adjustment last year.”

Rising Fuel Imports

The company bought gasoline imports at a 17 percent premium compared with domestic prices during the first quarter, Auro Rozenbaum, an analyst at Bradesco SA, said in a telephone interview before the report was released. Fuel imports climbed 46 percent to 406,000 barrels a day from a year ago and 3 percent from the fourth quarter.

Petrobras is investing $224.7 billion over five years to build refineries, develop deepwater fields and ramp up output at Lula, the largest discovery in Brazil’s history. Petrobras is spending more than any other major oil company as it develops fields in waters as deep at 2,800 meters (9,186 feet) that are trapped under a layer of salt.

The Brazilian producer said it discovered more oil in the so-called pre-salt region during the quarter, including Carioca Sela and Carcara in the Santos Basin and Pao de Azucar in the Campos Basin. Petrobras started output at the Cascade field in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in the period.

Brent crude averaged $118.45 a barrel in the first quarter, up from $105.52 a year earlier. Brent oil for June settlement gained 0.6 percent to close at $112.24 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange today.

Petrobras fell 2.2 percent to close at 18.49 reais in Sao Paulo today. The earnings report was released after the end of regular trading.

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