MELBOURNE Feb 16 Origin Energy Ltd,
Australia's top power and gas retailer, reported a 28 percent
drop in half-year underlying profit on Thursday, far short of
analysts' forecasts, as weak oil prices depressed revenue from
Australia Pacific liquefied natural gas (APLNG).
Origin said it was on track to go ahead with an initial
public offering of its exploration and production assets,
excluding gas aimed for exports, in 2017.
Underlying profit after tax sank to A$184 million ($142
million) for the six months to December from A$254 million a
year earlier. That compares with a forecast of around A$332
million from two analysts.
It said weakened revenue from APLNG meant the project was
unable to cover increases in interest, tax, depreciation and
Origin paid no interim dividend, as expected. It stopped
paying dividends last August to focus on paying down debt to
help it weather weak oil and gas prices.
($1 = 1.2967 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by James Dalgleish)