May 20, 2020 / 7:13 AM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 1-Austria's SBO reports 40% profit fall, expects medium-term demand rebound

(Adds CEO, North America, detail)

VIENNA, May 20 (Reuters) - Austrian oilfield equipment producer Schoeller-Bleckmann (SBO) reported a 40% fall in first-quarter operating profit as the coronavirus impacted exploration activities and knocked oil demand.

CEO Gerald Grohmann said on Wednesday it was not possible to predict when the turning point in the energy industry will be reached.

“What is clear, however, is that in the medium term a significant catch-up effect will take place and with it also in the demand for oil and gas,” he said.

“As we have a sound balance sheet and virtually no net debt, we are well prepared to navigate through these difficult times.”

SBO’s net debt by end-March had halved from end-2019 to 9.1 million euros.

The company generates a large chunk of revenue in North America, where it said the negative impact from the turmoil on the energy markets was “significant”.

Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) fell to 12.1 million euros ($13.25 million) as sales fell 10% to 108.9 million euros in the three months to March 31, SBO said.

It said it plans to push ahead with cost cutting measures but did not give details.

Grohmann expects oil and gas to cover more than 50% of primary energy requirements in the next two decades.

SBO builds highly specialised oilfield exploration equipment such as drilling motors and circulation tools and provides repair and maintenance services.

$1 = 0.9135 euros Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; editing by Michelle Martin and Jason Neely

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