* Earnings drop to C$124 million from C$515 million * Cuts quarterly cash distribution to C$0.15/shr
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Canadian Oil Sands Trust COS_u.TO, which holds the biggest stake in Syncrude Canada Ltd, said on Wednesday its fourth quarter profit fell 76 percent as oil prices dropped and costs rose.
The trust, which has a 37 percent stake in Syncrude, the world’s largest oil sands producer, cut its quarterly cash distribution to 15 Canadian cents per unit, from 75 Canadian cents to manage liquidity.
The trust said it earned C$124 million, or 26 Canadian cents per unit, down from C$515 million, or C$1.07 per unit in the fourth quarter of 2007.
The profit lagged the average analyst estimate of 32 Canadian cents per unit, according to Reuters Estimates.
Cash from operating activities increased to C$466 million, or 97 Canadian cents a unit, from C$367 million, or 77 Canadian cents a unit. Operating costs per barrel rose to C$32.10 from C$27.38.
The trust said it estimated annual Syncrude production in 2009 would be 115 million barrels, within a range of 110 million to 120 million.
Costs are expected to be C$30.76 a barrel, with Syncrude’s capital expenditures seen at C$1.2 billion, of which C$440 million would be the trust’s share.
$1=$1.21 Canadian Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson