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BG 1Q Profit Down on Lower Production

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LONDON - BG Group PLC said Thursday its first-quarter net profit was down 0.8% on lower production and increased costs in exploration and production, but said it had delivered three key milestones on projects in Brazil and the U.K. 

The company, which last year surprised the market by downgrading its production targets, said it was on track to meet its project milestones for this year. 

The U.K.'s third-largest oil and natural gas company by market value said net profit for the three months ended March 31 totaled $1.21 billion, compared with $1.22 billion for the first quarter of 2012. 

"We have made a good start to the year, delivering the three key milestones for the first quarter, whilst also making progress with our project execution program for the year," said Chief Executive Chris Finlayson. 

Excluding gains or losses from one-off items, such as asset sales, the company's profit was $1.18 billion, down 3.4% from $1.23 billion in the same period a year earlier. This was 6.1% above average expectations of $1.12 billion in a Dow Jones Newswires poll of six analysts. 

Total oil and gas production was 659,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, a 1.5% fall from the same period a year ago, but slightly above analysts' expectations of 648,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. 

Revenue for the quarter was up 0.6% to $4.91 billion from $4.88 billion a year ago. 

Diluted earnings per share were 35.3 cents compared with 34.2 cents the previous year.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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