February 15, 2017 / 10:28 PM / 10 months ago

Origin Energy reports 28 pct drop in 1st-half core profit

MELBOURNE, Feb 16 (Reuters) - 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 amortisation.

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)

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