Caltex well-positioned for growth: CEO

By a staff reporter

Caltex Australia Ltd says it is well-positioned to take advantage of the rich pipeline of growth opportunities across Australia.

Caltex chief executive Julian Segal told shareholders at Caltex's annual general meeting, opportunities are available to the company in the mining, agriculture, aviation, transportation and retail sectors. 

"We will continue to focus on expanding our infrastructure to support our strong supply, distribution, sales and marketing capability, along with modest acquisitions as opportunities are identified," he said.

The group revealed its first quarter profit had jumped almost 80 per cent but warned refiners' margins were likely to be squeezed as capacity in Asia and the Middle East grows.

Caltex said net profit in the first quarter of 2013 to March was $190 million, up from $106 million in the same period the previous year.

It said the strong profit result was helped by inventory gains of $46 million after tax, up from $37 million the previous year.

Its Marketing and Distribution business continued to grow, with earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of $190 million up two per cent compared to the same period last year.

Caltex Australia chairman Elizabeth Bryan said that in the short to medium term the company expects to see growth in regional refining capacity in Asia and the Middle East exceed underlying demand.

"This is likely to result in further pressure on refiner margins," Ms Bryan said.

Caltex's decision last year to close its Kurnell oil refinery and Shell's decision to close its Clyde oil refineries reduced Australia's refining capacity by nearly a third.

Kurnell will become a refined oil import and distribution centre.

In February, Caltex announced it had returned to profitability in 2012 due largely to the absence of the massive refinery writedown that hurt last year's result.

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