UPDATE 2-Brazil Petrobras 1st-qtr profit falls 30 pct, meets outlook
(Adds comment from analyst and Petrobras comment, background on results)
By Jeb Blount
RIO DE JANEIRO May 9 (Reuters) - Profit at Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA fell 30 percent in the first quarter, the company said on Friday, meeting analysts' expectations as refining and fuels losses rose and output fell.
Petrobras, as the company is known, reported net income of 5.39 billion reais ($2.43 billion) in the quarter, compared with 7.69 billion reais a year earlier. The result was in line with the 5.24-billion-reais average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Reuters News.
Profit fell 14 percent from the fourth quarter.
Petrobras is struggling to implement a $221 billion five-year investment plan as government fuel-price controls and soaring costs starve the company of cash. Rio de Janeiro-based Petrobras has the highest debt levels and lowest profitability of any major oil company.
Petrobras' annual profit could soar if the company is more efficiently managed and freed by the government to raise domestic gasoline and diesel prices in line with world prices, Paula Kovarsky, an oil company analyst at Banco Itau BBA in Sao Paulo, wrote on Thursday in a note to investors. She said profit under those conditions could rise by more than half in 2014 from 2013 to 36.2 billion reais.
Profit in the first quarter fell despite a jump in revenue.
Net sales, or sales minus sales taxes, rose 12 percent to 81.5 billion reais, compared with 72.5 billion reais a year earlier. The figure, boosted by fuel-price increases last year, was also in line with the survey estimate. Continuación...