February 28, 2008 / 10:28 AM / 10 years ago

Canadian Natural's fourth-quarter profit jumps

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) (CNQ.N), Canada’s No.2 oil exploration firm, said on Thursday its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled.

The company’s net income rose to C$798 million, or C$1.48 per share, from C$313 million, or 58 Canadian cents, in the year-prior quarter.

Excluding one-time gains and charges, the company earned C$546 million, or C$1.02 per share, from C$412 million, or 77 Canadian cents per share in the year-earlier quarter.

On average, analysts polled by Reuters Estimates expected a profit of C$1.05 per share.

The company is just months away from completing its 110,000 barrel per day Horizon oil sands project, though it said two weeks ago that costs for the facility will be as much as C$7.8 billion, C$1.9 billion more than initial estimates.

When complete in August, Horizon’s oil will augment Canadian Natural’s production from Canada, the North Sea and offshore West Africa.

The company’s cash flow from operations, a key measure of its ability to pay for new projects and drilling, rose 15 percent to C$1.49 billion.

Cash flow was C$6.2 billion in 2007. Looking ahead, Canadian Natural sees cash flow approaching C$6.0 billion this year, and a debt-to-book capitalization of about 40 percent.

The company’s natural gas production fell 1.8 percent to 1.59 billion cubic feet a day.

On a combined basis, oil and gas production totaled 337,240 barrels per day, a 1.9 percent drop from the year-earlier quarter.

    Reporting by Jonathan Spicer and Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Mario Di Simine

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