LONDON: British oil services firm Petrofac said it was confident it would win new contracts this year, a must to put it on track to meet its growth targets, after posting a forecast-beating 25 percent jump in profit in 2011.
Petrofac said on Monday it was seeing a strong pipeline of opportunities across both parts of its business - that which designs and builds oil and gas infrastructure, as well as the part which invests alongside oil firms in oil fields.
Shrugging off the impact of what it called "significant competition" in its key Middle East and North African markets, Petrofac said it expected profit to grow by at least 15 percent this year, putting it on track to meet its goal of more than doubling 2010 earnings by 2015.
"The confidence in Petrofac's near term earnings growth relies increasingly on strong order intake in the first half of 2012," JP Morgan analysts said.
Shares in Pefrofac traded 1.7 percent higher at 1,600 pence at 1045 GMT, making the company one of the biggest risers in London's blue-chip index, and valuing the firm at around 5.4 billion pounds ($8.6 billion).
"We're seeing a lot of activity during January this year. We had a very high number of requests for our capabilities in terms of the early stages of contracting processes. There is a lot going on in our core markets in terms of new customer investment," Chief Financial Officer Tim Weller told reporters on a conference call.
Analysts at Oriel Securities said the lack of recent contract awards raised concerns about the company's ability to meet its forecasts.
"We estimate that to underpin our 2013 estimated revenue Petrofac needs to win $8 billion of new contracts by the end of 2012. This is starting to look challenging when compared to the$2.1 billion of contracts won in 2011," they said.
Petrofac, currently building major gas and oil facilities in Turkmenistan, Abu Dhabi and Algeria, said its backlog of orders stood at $10.8 billion at the end of 2011, lower than the $11.7 billion level recorded at the end of the previous period, but Weller said he saw momentum returning to the order book.
"We expect to see very healthy growth in new orders in 2012 compared with 2011," he said, adding the company was seeing more opportunities, but for smaller contracts.
The company last year announced plans to expand the part of its business which invests in oil fields, the Integrated Energy Services unit, which helps primarily state-run national oil firms developing their reserves in countries such as Mexico, Malaysia and Romania.
It said on Monday it was also having conversations with international oil firms about possible contracts.
Petrofac posted full-year net profit of $539.4 million compared to the $433 million it made in 2010 and ahead of the consensus forecast of $522 million from a company-supplied poll of 20 analysts.
The company also said it planned to pay a final dividend of 37.20 cents per share, bringing the full-year total to 54.60 cents, 24.7 percent higher than last year's payout.