Brazil’s state-controlled energy giant Petroleo Brazileiro SA (NYSE: PBR), better known as Petrobras, had its best quarter in nearly two years in the first quarter of 2012. The company’s improved performance reflected a year-over-year increase of 20% in crude exports.
For the quarter, Petrobras produced an average of 2.676 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, up 2% year-over-year, and exports totaled nearly 500,000 barrels/day as prices rose 13% to add even more to the company’s profit picture.
Petrobras is in the midst of the most aggressive oil and gas development program in the world. The company plans to spend $225 billion over the period 2011-2015 to develop its massive offshore fields and improve its onshore processing facilities. For the first quarter, Petrobras invested a total of just over $9 billion, with about half going to exploration and production investments.
Rising costs and refining losses cut the company’s income by -16% compared with the first quarter of 2011, but EPS of about $0.36 beat the consensus estimate of $0.32. Revenue for the quarter totaled about $33.2 billion, up 22% year-over-year.
The company’s ADRs are up about 3.5% just before noon today, at $20.03 in a 52-week range of $19.31-$35.10. Shares are down about -40% over the last 12 months as the company has been trying to ramp up production. If Petrobras can maintain its growing production — and crude prices don’t fall too far — the stock could be on the road to recovering some of the past losses.