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Soco falls as oil, gas profits decline


LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Soco International Plc, a UK oil explorer focused on Africa and Asia, slumped the most in five months in London as earnings missed estimates.

The shares dropped as much as 7 percent, the biggest drop since Sept. 26, and traded down 5.5 percent at 439 pence as of 9:08 a.m. local time. It was the worst performer on the FTSE 350 Oil & Gas Producers Index.

Profit fell to $104.1 million, down from $207 million a year earlier and short of the $218.3 million estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Soco returned more than $200 million to shareholders in the fourth quarter and said it will recommend a further cash return in 2014. The shares have climbed 19 percent in a year.

“The stock has been trading at a premium to the sector for a while,” said Thomas Martin, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity Ltd. in London. “Maybe people were looking for something to justify that.”

The company said revenue was $608.1 million last year, down from $621.6 million in 2012. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortization and exploration write-offs declined to $472.9 million from $496 million.

“The company is pleased that we have been able to create value for shareholders from cash returns and a 100 percent success ratio in our Vietnam and operated drilling programs,” said CEO Ed Story in a statement. “Whilst revenues are slightly down,” the “future looks extremely bright.”



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