Brazilian state-run oil firm Petrobras missed fourth-quarter expectations, but posted a record profit for 2019, as the firm's strategy of focusing on deepwater production and exiting non-core activities shows signs off paying off.
In a securities filing on Wednesday, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, said full-year 2019 profit came to 40.1 billion reais ($9.19 billion), the highest figure ever.
However, Petrobras underperformed analysts' expectations in the fourth quarter. The company posted a quarterly net income of 8.15 billion reais, significantly below some analysts' expectations, as the firm was dogged by impairments and an increase in administrative costs. Analysts at Brazilian investment bank BTG Pactual had estimated the firm would report a net income of 9.09 billion reais.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) were 36.5 billion reais in the quarter, which was also at the low end of analysts' estimates.
The firm registered 6.59 billion reais in impairments due to revisions to Brent oil price forecasts, as well as a 2.2 billion-real impairment at its RNEST refinery due to construction delays
General and administrative expenses also shot up significantly due to what the company called an "internal reclassification of costs."
Still, investors have shown a willingness to forgive one-off charges, as Petrobras' current administration continues to deliver relatively healthy margins and invest in promising offshore oilfields.
Exploratory costs shot up in the fourth quarter, pressuring profits, but also signaling the company is aggressively moving ahead with its focus on offshore oil exploration and production.
One bright spot was an increase in top-line revenue for the oil firm to 37.1 billion reais from 30 billion reais the previous quarter. The firm said higher Brent prices boosted revenue.
Petrobras added that its board approved the distribution of 2.5 billion reais in dividends to ordinary shareholders and 1.7 million reais in dividends to preferred shareholders.
Last week, the firm said it hit a new production record in the fourth quarter, thanks largely to the ramp-up of platforms in the so-called "pre-salt" offshore oil formation.
($1 = 4.37 reais)
(Reporting by Gram Slattery and Marta Nogueira; Editing by Chris Reese and Lisa Shumaker)