CAIRO: Egypt s biggest listed firm, Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), posted a 42 percent rise in quarterly profit after margins and prices improved, and said it saw fertilizer demand continuing to grow.
The building and fertilizer industry giant posted fourth-quarter net profit of $105.8 million, just below the $111.3 million average forecast in a Reuters poll, but within a $98 million to $132 million range.
The results were slightly positive, operational-wise, but the bottom line was impacted by one-off losses, which is not a big deal. I wouldn t change my stance on this company, said EFG-Hermes analyst Ahmed Shams.
Net profit was dampened by a larger-than-expected foreign exchange loss of $7.7 million after the euro s depreciation against the dollar impacted OCI s euro deposits, he added.
Analysts see OCI posting higher profits in 2010, as global urea and ammonia prices continue to rise, increasing the portion of revenue contributed by the firm s relatively high-margin fertilizer operations.
We see better fertilizer prices compared to 2009, which will impact profitability of course, Pharos analyst George Beshara said.
Higher construction spending in Egypt, Qatar and Abu Dhabi should help OCI win $4 billion worth of new contracts in 2010, he added.
Pharos expects OCI s net profit to jump by over one-fifth next year to $550 million, and revenue to rise to $4.6 billion.
The firm s shares traded 3.3 percent higher by 1108 GMT, while the main index rose 0.6 percent.
OCI s fertilizer group sold 1.358 million tons of urea at an average price of $266 per ton and 384,000 tons of ammonia at an average price of $251 per ton in 2009, OCI said in a statement accompanying the results.
We are optimistic that market conditions for urea and ammonia will continue to improve during 2010, the firm s chairman and chief executive, Nassef Sawiris, said in the statement.
OCI said its construction wing was granted $3.16 billion of new awards in 2009, about two thirds of which was infrastructure work. Consolidated backlog stood at $6.65 billion at end-December, down 7.8 percent from the previous quarter.
Fourth-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) jumped to $225.4 million from $147.3 million in 2008. Consolidated revenue in the quarter dropped 5 percent to $966.6 million compared to a year earlier.
In 2008, the firm posted fourth-quarter net profit from continued operations of $74.5 million, which excluded gains from the sale of a 45-percent stake in Sokhna Port Development Company.