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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rosneft Reports Q4 Profit Declined 64%

Rosneft, Russia's largest oil producer, said profit declined 64 percent in the fourth quarter as crude prices fell while taxes and costs rose.

Net income dropped to $775 million from $2.18 billion in the same period a year earlier, the company said Wednesday in an e-mailed statement. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a measure of profitability, plunged to $32 million from $5.08 billion.

Taxes in the fourth quarter "were higher despite the oil price being 40 percent lower" than the same period the previous year, "primarily due to the export-duty lag," Peter O'Brien, Rosneft's vice president for finance and investments, said by telephone.

Oil producers have reported lower fourth-quarter earnings as the global economic slowdown saps demand for crude. The price of Urals blend fell 53 percent in the quarter from the previous three months, compared with a 38 percent decline in the export duty, Citigroup said in a note on Feb. 27. State-run Rosneft exports about half its output.

"Net income was obviously a surprise because it's ahead of forecasts, but mostly due to one-off, noncash items," Artem Konchin, an oil and gas analyst at UniCredit, said by telephone.

Net income included $956 million in deferred benefits resulting from changes in the income tax rate and $946 million in foreign exchange gains from the revaluation of ruble-denominated liabilities, both noncash items, Rosneft said in the statement.

"If the exchange rate stays where it is through the end of the first quarter, we will have another material foreign exchange gain," O'Brien said. An unchanged ruble exchange rate will also lower costs in dollars on a U.S. generally accepted accounting principles basis, he said.

Rosneft closed up 4.9 percent at 130.54 rubles on the MICEX exchange on Wednesday.

Taxes, other than income tax, reached a record 64 percent of Rosneft's revenue in the fourth quarter, the company said, without giving a comparison. Sales declined 35 percent to $10.8 billion, in line with the $10.7 billion estimate by analysts.

Russian oil exporters paid an average of $48.34 a barrel in mineral-extraction taxes and crude-export duties in the fourth quarter, Alexei Kokin, a senior oil and gas analyst at IFC Metropol, said in a March 2 note. Urals prices in northwest Europe averaged $54.95 a barrel, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Rosneft grew from a second-tier oil company into Russia's leading producer in 2007 after buying up assets belonging to Yukos, which collapsed under back-tax claims of more than $30 billion. Rosneft, which borrowed $22 billion that year to bid for Yukos units at auction, had $21.3 billion in net debt at the end of last year.

Rosneft will have to repay $7 billion in debt this year, the company said.