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Norsk Hydro Fourth-Quarter Earnings Plunge 68%

Oil and light metals group Norsk Hydro said Monday fourth-quarter fell 68% after the company had to write down the value of some assets.

The company presented its earnings a day ahead of schedule after the Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv gained access to confidential information its results, a news release said.

Net profit for the three months through December was 1.3 billion kroner (US$215 million) compared to 4.2 billion kroner a year earlier.

Norsk took a write-down in the value of Front Runner field and other nine fields in the Gulf of Mexico, which was announced last month.

For 2006 as a whole, the group, based on the outskirts of Oslo, reported an 11% increase in net income, to 17.4 billion kroner (US$2.8 billion) 15.6 billion kroner a year earlier. Revenue for the year rose nearly 17% to 200.7 billion kroner ($32.1 billion).

"Last year's record result was driven by high oil, gas and aluminum prices, combined with strong operational performance," said Norsk Hydro President and Chief Executive Eivind Reiten. "Market outlooks for most of Hydro's core products are promising."

Norsk Hydro employs about 33,000 people in 40 countries.

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