May 16 (Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the world’s biggest oil producer in deep waters, surged the most since October 2010 after an increase in first-quarter crude exports boosted revenue.
Petrobras, as the Rio de Janeiro-based company is known, gained 4.3 percent to close at 19.29 reais in Sao Paulo. Earlier the stock climbed as much as 6 percent, the biggest intraday gain since Oct. 26, 2010.
Oil exports rose 20 percent from a year earlier to 497,000 barrels a day after the company sold inventories, Petrobras said in a regulatory filing. Sales climbed 22 percent to 66.13 billion reais ($33.2 billion) in the quarter after international oil prices increased 13 percent, Petrobras said.
“The market liked the export numbers a lot,” Joao Pedro Brugger, who helps oversee 70 million reais at Leme Investimentos in Florianopolis, Brazil, said in a telephone interview today. “The results are helping this recovery after the shares fell a lot.”
Petrobras has fallen 10 percent this year, compared with a 0.5 percent gain in Brazil’s Bovespa benchmark stock index.
Net income dropped 16 percent to 9.2 billion reais, or 71 centavos a share, from 10.99 billion reais, or 84 centavos, a year earlier, Brazil’s state-controlled producer said late yesterday. Per-share profit beat the 64-centavo average of four analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Higher prices for Brazil’s heavy grades of oil compared with the Brent benchmark increased export revenue, Buenos Aires-based Bank of America analyst Frank McGann said in a note to clients. Fuel sales rose 10 percent in the quarter, driven by 24 percent growth in gasoline sales.
“The company’s increase in oil exports and its use of inventories at lower prices mainly explained the better-than-expected operating performance in the period,” Bradesco SA analysts led by Auro Rozenbaum said in a note to clients distributed today.
Petrobras increased prices for gasoline and diesel by 10 percent and 2 percent, respectively, on Nov. 1. The first boost in more than three years reduced the discount with international prices.
“We had more exports at higher prices,” Chief Financial Officer Almir Barbassa said at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro.
The company bought gasoline imports at a 17 percent premium compared with domestic prices during the first quarter, Rozenbaum said in a telephone interview from Sao Paulo before the report was released. Fuel imports gained 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 Acucar 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, which expires today, slipped 0.4 percent to $111.81 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Petrobras’ production costs rose 14 percent to $12.98 a barrel because of an increased amount of water produced with oil at the company’s fields in the Campos Basin. Water produced with oil normally rises as fields age. Petrobras also increased maintenance work at offshore platforms, boosting costs.
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