Bergesen Profits Expected To Be Lower

Friday, November 05, 1999
Pre-tax profits at Bergesen d.y. Group ASA, Norway's largest shipping company, are expected to more than halve to 322 million crowns in nine months to September 30, a Reuters poll showed last week. In the same period in 1998, Bergesen booked profits before taxes of 783 million crowns. The survey of eight Norwegian analysts includes unrealized losses in the first half on foreign exchange transactions of 81 million crowns, but does not provide for additional losses or gains in the third quarter. Operating profits were forecast at 466 million crowns, down from a corresponding year-ago 846 million, with estimates for the tanker sector showing the widest variation between 131 and 239 million crowns. Estimates for the operating result and for tankers includes gains of 95 million crowns, of which 64 million was booked in the first half. Four of the panel rated Bergesen a "buy", two said "hold" and two declined to give a recommendation. Since the second quarter, Bergesen's share price has climbed to 125 crowns per share from 110 and five analysts with targets for 6-12 months said the stock could rise to a consensus 143 crowns, ranging between 135 crowns and 150. Analysts with "buy" ratings noted that the tanker market had reached the bottom and the value of vessels had stabilized. The gas segment was also expected to improve next year. However, some panel participants said there were several issues the company needed to address, such as what it planned to do with its cash pile, which areas it planned investment and whether it would increase dividend. Bergesen will present nine-month results on November 11.

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