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Reuters: Total SA lifts Q2 profits 16 pct, production falls

Thu Aug 3, 2006 2:26am ET

PARIS, Aug 3 (Reuters) – French oil major Total SA (TOTF.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) reported a 16 percent rise in second-quarter net profit on Thursday, broadly in line with expectations as high oil prices compensated for a fall in production.

The world’s sixth-largest oil company by market value said adjusted net profit, which strips out gains in the value of fuel inventories and one-off items, was 3.361 billion euros ($4.30 billion) against 2.906 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Adjusted operating profit rose to 6.672 billion euros from 5.448 billion.

A Reuters poll of 12 analysts had pegged adjusted net profit at 3.441 billion euros on average and operating profit at 6.947 billion euros.

Total’s net profit rise compares with respective gains of 35 percent, 23 percent and 36 percent by bigger rivals ExxonMobil (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research), BP Plc. (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research).

“Oil prices have continued to rise, driven by sustained demand and persistent pressure on production capacity. Refining margins recovered, reflecting mainly the strength of gasoline demand in the U.S.,” CEO Thierry Desmarest said in a statement.

Production in the quarter, however, declined 9 percent to 2.29 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, echoing the trend across the majors, except for Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI: Quote, Profile, Research).

Total shares closed Wednesday 0.5 percent lower at 52.40 euros, slightly trailing the DJ Stoxx oil and gas index < .SXEP>.

The stock changes hands at 9.3 times expected 2007 earnings in line with rival Eni.

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