ONGC Quarterly Net Falls, Missing Estimates, on Oil Slump

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Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s biggest energy explorer, reported a third consecutive quarterly profit decline after it sold crude oil at lower prices.

Net income fell to 39.4 billion rupees ($617 million), or 4.60 rupees a share, in the three months ended March 31 from 48.9 billion rupees, or 5.71 rupees, the state-owned company said in a statement Thursday. The median estimate of 27 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was 59.8 billion rupees. Sales rose 2 percent to 213 billion rupees.

The decline in net income, a reflection in part of increased operating costs, makes it harder for the explorer to garner funds for its planned 11 trillion-rupee investment in new projects as it grapples with aging fields. It also sours the government’s plan to sell shares in the company.

Operating costs rose 12.8 billion rupees from the year-earlier quarter, ONGC Finance Director-designate A.K. Srinivasan said at a press briefing.

ONGC shares fell 1.2 percent to 327.90 rupees in Mumbai Thursday. The stock has declined 4 percent this year. The earnings were announced after the close of trading.

The company expects better profits in the current quarter because of higher prices for oil sales, Chairman D.K. Sarraf said at the press conference.