Unipetrol Advances to 15-Month High as Profit More Than Doubles

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Unipetrol AS, the largest Czech oil refiner, rose to a 15-month high in Prague trading after saying first-quarter profit more than doubled.

Unipetrol climbed as much as 5.9 percent to 158.9 koruna, the highest intraday price since Jan. 28, 2014. The stock traded up 4.1 percent as of 10:15 a.m. local time, the biggest gain on the Prague Stock Exchange Index.

Quarterly earnings were buoyed by a decline in costs following a slump in oil prices. Demand for refined and petrochemical products has gathered pace in the Czech Republic, where the economy has grown for five consecutive quarters.

“Higher refining margins, positively affected by a profound decline of crude-oil prices, were utilized thanks to a 15 percent increase of refinery-product sales,” Chief Executive Officer Marek Switajewski said Thursday in an English version of the company’s earnings statement.

Net income jumped to 2 billion koruna ($78 million) in the quarter from 937 million koruna a year earlier, Unipetrol said. Earnings before interest and taxes rose to 2.4 billion koruna from 985 million koruna.

The results “exceeded market expectations on all levels,” Bohumil Trampota, an analyst at J&T Banka AS, said in an e-mail. “Higher volumes, record-high refining margins and lower oil prices need to be especially mentioned.”

The refiner expects its conversion capacity to increase by a third to 8.7 million metric tons of crude a year following the acquisition of a 32.4 percent stake in Ceska Rafinerska from Eni SpA last year.

Unipetrol’s biggest shareholder is Polish oil refiner PKN Orlen SA, with a 63 percent stake. Orlen said Thursday that first-quarter profit beat analyst estimates.

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