Repsol Swings Back to Third-Quarter Profit but Narrowly Misses Expectations

Spanish oil producer Repsol (REPYY) swung back to a third-quarter profit, posting net income of €481 million ($533 million) on improved upstream performance driven by deeper than expected cost cutting.

Repsol rebounded from a €221 million loss in the same quarter last year but left investors unmoved after its adjusted net income, which accounts for fluctuations in expenses, came in at €307 million, marginally below the company collated analyst consensus of €320 million.

Repsol shares traded Thursday at €12.45, up 0.10 or less than 1%.  

The Madrid-based company's results round out a mixed third quarter for European oil companies, that included better than expected figures from France's Total (TOT) and Netherlands' Shell (RDS.B) , both of which benefited from increases in production, and misses from the U.K.'s BP (BP) and Italy's Eni (E) , where disappointing production left them exposed to the impact of falling oil prices.

Repsol's adjusted net income from oil and gas production came in at negative €28 million, compared to negative €395 million in 2015, boosted by cut backs in exploration and operating costs. Despite the improvement the upstream earnings missed analyst expectations of a €5 million loss, largely due to a higher tax rate over the quarter.

Production averaged 671,000 barrels of oil per day over the quarter, 3% higher year-on-year, primarily due to a ramp up of operations in Venezuela and Brazil, and the acquisition of new production in Norway.  

Downstream adjusted net income for the quarter fell 42% to €395 million compared to the same quarter a year ago as lower refining margins took their toll.

Upstream was "slightly weaker" than expected while "downstream was broadly in line with expectations," said Goldman Sachs analysts. ""We remain neutral rated." The bank has a 12 month price target of €12 per share.

Repsol had some good news on cost cutting, revealing it had reached its target €1.1 billion of cost savings for the entire year and increasing the target to €1.4 billion.

Net debt fell by €2 billion over the quarter to below €10 billion as Repsol funneled free cash flow, including proceeds from the sale of a 10% stake in Spanish energy distributor Gas Natural, into paying down loans.  

Repsol is under pressure to shed assets and reduce debt to protect a credit rating that is one notch above junk with a negative outlook at all the major credit rating agencies. CEO Josu Jon Imaz San Miguel said last year he would sell €3.1 billion of assets by the end of 2016 and remains just shy of that figure with €3 billion raised from disposals so far this year.

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