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Petrofac is the oil world’s ‘darling’ as it posts forecast-beating profits

Published Date: 23 August 2011
By Erikka Askeland
Senior Business Writer

Petrofac was described as the “darling” of the oil services industry after posting a forecast-beating first-half profit and said it was confident demand from national oil firms would continue to fuel growth despite global political unrest.

Keith Roberts, chief financial officer, said: “We are increasingly seeing resource holders who don’t want to give up the title to reserves but do need expertise to help improve or develop their resources.
“Whether its Malaysia, Petrom in Romania, now Mexico. This is a long-term systemic trend,” he said, adding that the company also saw future opportunities for that part of the business in Iraq and Turkmenistan.
Demand for oilfield upgrades to improve extraction rates will also be a major driver of growth, the firm said.
Ayman Asfari, the firm’s chief executive, said the company plans to invest as much as $4 billion (£2.4bn) through to 2015 to secure contracts in Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria and Thailand. He added the firm will also bid for more projects in Mexico after winning two fields last week from Pemax, Mexico’s state oil monopoly, which were the result of the first foreign-investor deals in the nation since 1938. 
In Africa, Petrofac is examining projects with Nigerian National Petroleum Corp and possible bids for fields being sold by Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), outside of its partnership with Seven Energy International. The company, which designs and builds infrastructure and also invests alongside firms in oil fields, posted net profit of $246.3 million for the first six months of the year, a 6.6 per cent rise on the previous year which slightly exceeded analysts’ expectations. 
Profits in the FTSE 100 company’s offshore engineering and operations business soared by over 700 per cent reflecting strong activity levels in Malaysia, where it has a contract to develop oil and gas facilities for the country’s state oil firm Petronas.
Keith Morris, analyst at Evolution said that Petrofac looked undervalued after recent poor share price performance. Shares in the company have fallen almost 20 per cent over the last month, broadly in line with recent sell-offs across the oil and gas sector.
Petrofac said it planned to pay an interim dividend of 17.4 cents (10.54p) per share, a 26.1 per cent jump on the same period last year.

Shares in the firm rose 43p or 3.7 per cent to 1,211p in a buoyant day for markets.
Analysts added the firm’s performance led the way for others in the sector. “The emergence of oil services companies in recent years has been due in no small way to sector darling Petrofac, which has set many investor portfolios alight with its truly stellar performance,” said Richard Curr at Prime Markets.

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