Reference oil refining margins in North-West Europe improved during the first quarter in 2006 compared to the same quarter a year earlier. Neste Oil's refining margin also increased, despite the narrower price difference between heavier and lighter crude oil. The decrease in crude oil freight rates contributed to a slightly lower comparable operating profit compared to the first quarter of 2005. A continued high level of capital expenditure, the dividend paid for 2005, and an increase in working capital resulted in a clearly higher level of net debt at the end of the first quarter compared to the end of 2005.
First quarter in brief:
* Comparable operating profit of EUR 119 million (Q1/05: 129 million)
* Operating profit of EUR 153 million (Q1/05: 147 million)
* Earnings per share of EUR 0.44 (Q1/05: 0.41)
* Cash flow from operations of EUR -150 million (Q1/05: 154 million)
* Diesel project at the Porvoo refinery progressed according to schedule
* Sale of 10% stake in Ibn Zahr agreed and expected to be closed in the second quarter
President & CEO Risto Rinne:
"We've had a promising start in 2006, which looks set to be another good year for us. We are working hard to successfully complete our Diesel project in the last quarter, and will continue focusing on biofuels and biodiesel in particular. These efforts, together with the recent divestment of our stake in Saudi Arabian-based Ibn Zahr, all reinforce our commitment to our strategy of focusing on high-quality fuels for cleaner traffic."
Risto Rinne, President & CEO, tel. +358 10 458 4990
Petri Pentti, CFO, tel. +358 10 458 4490
News conference and conference call
A press conference in Finnish on the first-quarter results will be held today, 27 April 2006, at 11:30 am EET in the Mirror Room at Hotel Kämp, Pohjoisesplanadi 29, Helsinki. www.nesteoil.com will feature English versions of the presentation materials.
A conference call in English for investors and analysts will be held today, 27 April 2006, at 3:00 pm EET. The call-in numbers are as follows: UK: +44 (0) 207 162 0025, US: +1 334 323 6201. Use the password: Neste Oil. An instant replay will be available until 4 May 2006 at +44 (0) 207 031 4064 for the UK and +1 954 334 0342 for the US, using access code 702299.