CAIRO: Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), Egypt’s biggest listed firm, said on Thursday that first-quarter profit rose 10.4 percent after margins on fertilizer sales improved and construction costs were kept down.
The builder and fertilizer-maker’s net profit of $116.6 million was in line with the average $117.3 million forecast of seven analysts polled by Reuters. Their forecasts ranged from $99 million to $128.1 million.
The result "looks in line with consensus, with construction margins better than expected and fertilizers slightly below on both revenues and margins," Deutsche Bank’s Nabil Ahmed said.
The firm expected to complete its €310 million ($381 million) purchase of Dutch chemicals group DSM’s fertilizer and melamine units on June 1, it said in a statement accompanying the results.
"Despite a softening of prices during Q2 2010, we continue to be optimistic that market conditions for nitrogen-based fertilizers will improve during the latter part of 2010," the statement said.
OCI said it won new construction work worth $790 million during the quarter. Its consolidated backlog of unfinished construction as of March 31 dipped 2.3 percent to $6.5 billion.
First-quarter consolidated revenue rose 19.1 percent to $985.5 million, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) jumped 33 percent to $233.7 million.
Net profit in the first quarter of 2009 was $105.7 million.
OCI’s Sorfert Algeria fertilizer plant, a joint venture with Algeria’s state-owned Sonatrach, was on track to start production early next year, the statement said.