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Oil Prices Cause Inpex to Reduce Profit Outlook and Drop in Trading

Inpex Corp, Japan's largest energy explorer, dropped in Tokyo trading after slashing its profit forecast by 15 percent on falling crude oil prices

Inpex Corp, Japan's largest energy explorer, dropped in Tokyo trading after slashing its profit forecast by 15 percent on falling crude oil prices.

Inpex declined 5.4 percent to close at 510,000 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, extending a two-day losing streak. The benchmark Topix index fell 1.6 percent.

Crude oil in New York tumbled 60 percent since reaching a record $147.27 a barrel on July 11, lowering the price of the oil and natural gas Inpex sells. Oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange traded at $59.37 at 3:13 p.m. Tokyo time.

"Inpex isn't an attractive investment vehicle for investors seeking a short-term gain,'' said Hidetoshi Shioda, a senior energy analyst at Mizuho Securities Co. "Oil prices still are searching for their near-term bottom, and may fall below $50 a barrel.''

The explorer yesterday cut its full-year net income outlook to 150 billion yen ($1.5 billion) in the year ending March 31, compared with its Aug. 8 forecast of 177 billion yen. Inpex posted a 173 billion-yen profit in the previous financial year. The shares have declined 59 percent this year, sinking to their lowest, at 465,000 yen, on Oct. 27.

"Those who can hold shares for a few years should buy Inpex now because it's matter of time before global economic growth picks up its pace and oil demand recovers,'' Shioda said.

Inpex yesterday said it will increase capital spending in the next few years and move ahead with the $20 billion Ichthys liquefied natural gas plant project in northern Australia, the largest single private investment in the country.

The explorer, 29 percent owned by Japan's trade ministry, has said it will boost its oil and gas production to 700,000 barrels a day by 2020 from 420,000 barrels in 2007. Beyond 2020, the company aims to further expand output to 1 million barrels.

Japan's annual oil imports total 4.2 million barrels a day.

Author: Jo Amey