Soco Falls Most in Two Years as Oil and Gas Profits Slide

Soco International Plc, a U.K. oil explorer focused on Africa and Asia, slumped the most in more than two years in London as 2013 earnings missed estimates.

The shares dropped 9.2 percent, the biggest decline since August 2011, to 422.10 pence. That was the worst performance on the FTSE 350 Oil & Gas Producers Index.

Profit after tax fell to $104.1 million, from $207 million and short of the $218.3 million average of 12 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Soco returned more than $200 million to shareholders in the fourth quarter and said it will recommend a further payout in 2014. The stock is up 16 percent in a year.

“The stock has been trading at a premium to the sector for a while,” said Thomas Martin, a Canaccord Genuity Ltd. analyst. “Maybe people were looking for something to justify that.”

Sales fell to $608.1 million, from $621.6 million. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortization and exploration write-offs declined to $472.9 million from $496 million.

“The company is pleased that we have been able to create value for shareholders from cash returns and a 100 percent success ratio in our Vietnam and operated drilling programs,” said Chief Executive Officer Ed Story. “Whilst revenues are slightly down,” the “future looks extremely bright.”

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