Eni Beats Q4 Expectations With First Profit In 18 Months
MILAN, March 1 (Reuters) - Eni beat expectations on Wednesday with its first quarterly profit in 18 months helped by lower spending and higher oil prices.
Eni, which cut investment last year by 19 percent, reported an adjusted net profit of 459 million euros ($484 million) for the three months to Dec. 31, well above an analyst consensus of 200 million euros provided by the company.
A year earlier Eni had reported an adjusted net loss of 301 million euros.
Eni, which has made major gas discoveries in Mozambique and Egypt, said its organic reserve replacement ratio had surged to 193 percent, its highest ever.
Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi said due to the group's project pipeline, production was expected to grow by an average of 3 percent per year over the next four years.
"The 2016 results mark the successful conclusion of a radical transformation process," he said.
Since taking over as CEO in 2014, Descalzi has won plaudits for refocusing the state-controlled group on the upstream business of finding oil and gas which accounts for about 60 percent of Eni's invested capital.
His mandate comes up for renewal in the coming weeks and there is some concern his position could be undermined by a corruption probe over a Nigerian oilfield.
In the fourth quarter Eni generated 3.2 billion euros in cash, up from 1.3 billion in the previous quarter.
It confirmed a dividend of 0.8 euros per share for 2016.
"Looking to the future, we are able to reaffirm our progressive remuneration policy," Descalzi said.
Eni is scheduled to announce a new strategic plan later on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; editing by Agnieszka Flak and Jason Neely)
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