SEOUL, Sept. 29 (Korea Bizwire) – Major South Korean refiners are expected to post a turnaround in their third quarter earnings, recovering from losses and dismal profits in the previous quarter, on the back of stronger margins amid rising oil prices, according to analysts Friday.
SK Innovation Co., the energy unit under SK Group, is forecast to log 667.5 billion won (US$498 million) in the operating profit for the July-September period, turning around from a loss of 107 billion won in the previous three months, according to the median estimate compiled by Yonhap Infomax, the financial news arm of Yonhap News Agency.
Revenue is estimated to reach 18.8 trillion won, up 0.8 percent from the previous quarter’s 18.7 trillion won.
Compared with a year earlier, the third-quarter consensus marks a 17 percent decline in sales and a 5.2 percent fall in operating income. The oil refinery industry boomed last year on rising oil prices.
S-Oil Corp. is projected to post 544 billion won in operating profit, recovering from 36 billion won in the previous quarter. Its revenue is estimated at 9.03 trillion won, up 15.51 percent from three months earlier.
GS Caltex Corp. is forecast to report 980 billion won in operating profit in the third quarter, turning to the black from a loss of 19 billion won in the second quarter. Its revenue is estimated at 12.9 trillion won, up 20.1 percent on-quarter.
A steady rise in the cracking margin, a key gauge of profitability for oil refiners, helped boost the bottom line.
The cracking margin jumped to $14.5 per barrel from $7.6 per barrel over the three-month period, according to a Samsung Securities report.
“Considering that the average Dubai crude rose to $92 (per barrel) in September from $74.6 in June, the inventory value is also expected to have improved significantly,” said Cho Hyun-ryul, a Samsung Securities analyst.
Refining margins are linked to international oil prices. Higher crude prices mean greater margins, or the difference between the total value of petroleum products and the cost of crude and related services.
“The cracking margin appears to be heading for a stable downtrend in the fourth quarter, but firm downstream demand from China and India is expected to continue, keeping the margin level above the average,” said Kim Do-hyun, an analyst at SK Securities Co.