Thai Banpu Q1 net profit up 132 pct, above f’cast

* Q1 revenue up 58 pct due to higher selling prices

* Q1 earnings seen strongest in ’09, analysts say

* Q2 outlook remains robust, coal sales volume to rise (Adds details)

BANGKOK, May 12 (Reuters) – Thailand’s top coal miner, Banpu BANP.BK, said on Tuesday its first-quarter earnings rose a higher-than-expected 132 percent as gains from hedging and the full operation of its 50 percent owned BLCP plant boosted growth.

Analysts expect the first-quarter earnings to be the high point for 2009, but the second-quarter outlook is still solid due to the full-capacity operation of its BLCP plant after maintenance in the fourth quarter, and with an expected rise in the volume of coal sales.

Banpu, also Indonesia’s fourth-largest coal company with five coal mines, posted a January-March net profit of 4.8 billion baht ($139 million), or 17.65 baht per share, compared with 2.07 billion baht a year earlier and up from 1.74 billion in the previous quarter.

Ten analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a net profit of 3.4 billion baht for the quarter.

First-quarter sales surged 58 percent to 13.6 billion baht on the back of higher selling prices, the company said.

Coal sales volume dropped 10 percent to 4.08 million tonnes, mainly due to lower production at its Indominco and Jarong mines.

Its average coal selling price rose 71 percent to $84.23 a tonne thanks to high prices set in contracts reached last year. It also said it sold more high-quality coal in the quarter.
Banpu shares, which trades at 7.87 times forecast earnings compared with PTT’s PTT.BK 10.2 times and an average 8.4 times for the energy sector, fell 5.7 percent in the January-March period against a 4.1 percent drop in the main Thai index .SETI. ($1 =34.64 Baht) (Reporting by Ploy Chitsomboon; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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