* Q4 net profit at 27.9 bln rupees vs f’cast 50.4 bln
* Q4 net realisation $38.75/bbl, subsidy cost $2.7 billion
* ONGC shares end down 1.9% in Mumbai ahead of results
(Adds quotes, details)
MUMBAI, May 30 (Reuters) - Indian state explorer Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC.BO) said on Monday net profit for its fiscal fourth quarter fell 26 percent, as a rise in its share of the oil subsidy burden offset higher oil and gas prices.
Earlier this month, the Indian government raised the share of subsidy burden for upstream firms to 38.7 percent for the March quarter from 33.33 percent earlier.[ID:nL4E7GK0ZN]
“There was lower profit in the quarter due to higher subsidy burden,” Chairman A.K. Hazarika told reporters.
ONGC said discounts to refiners jumped to 121.36 billion rupees ($2.7 billion) for the March quarter from 49.99 billion in the same period last year.
Gross realisation from oil sales rose to $108.90 per barrel from $79.15, while net proceeds after subsidies fell to $38.75 a barrel from $51.42.
India allows state-run refiners to set retail prices for petrol, but the government controls the price of diesel, cooking gas and kerosene, which means ONGC must sell crude to those refiners at discounted rates.
New Delhi has said it wants to loosen control of fuel prices, but has found the going difficult after global crude Clc1 rose nearly 17 percent in the fourth quarter, on top of a 14 percent rise the previous quarter.
State-run fuel retailers — IOC, Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPCL.BO) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp (HPCL.BO) — last raised petrol prices by 8.6 percent in mid-May, but these still don’t fully reflect international crude prices.
“There may be a knee-jerk reaction to the results, but the long-term worries are already reflected in the stock. This company would be worth much more without government interference,” said Ambareesh Baliga, chief operating officer at Way2wealth Securities.
Shares in ONGC, valued at nearly $53.4 billion, ended down 1.9 percent in a weak Mumbai market .BSESN ahead of the earnings. The stock has declined 13.8 percent so far in 2011, against a 11.1 percent fall in the main index.
ONGC said net profit for its fourth quarter rose to 27.9 billion rupees from 37.76 billion, against a forecast of 50.4 billion rupees in a Reuters poll of brokerages. Revenue rose 8.3 percent to 153.96 billion rupees.
Last month, Indian energy giant Reliance Industries (RELI.BO) posted a 14 percent rise in quarterly profit to a record high, but still missed market estimates. [ID:nL3E7FL2RO]
India is the world’s fourth-largest oil importer, importing about 80 percent of its crude needs. It is scouting for oil and gas assets abroad to meet demand in an economy growing around 8.5 percent, and to feed its expanding refining capacity.
“This project is attractive to us as Russian authorities have given a tax holiday,” ONGC Videsh Managing Director Joeman Thomas said.
The company may launch a follow-on public offer in the second week of July, chairman A.K. Hazarika said on Monday, providing a tentative timeline for an issue originally planned for the prior fiscal year.
The government had said it planned to raise up to $2.8 billion in the ONGC share sale as part of a plan to sell stakes in 60 firms over the next few years to cut its fiscal deficit and find funds for social welfare programmes. [ID:nSGE72300Q] ($1=45.18 rupees) (Reporting by Sanjeev Choudhary and Nidhi Verma; Writing by Prashant Mehra; Editing by Will Waterman)