Petrobras to report earnings amid ‘rough ride’ of strikes, probes


The bad news has piled on Petroleo Brasileiro (Petrobras), over the last 12 months, and Thursday evening's results will likely provide little relief.

The Brazilian oil giant's third-quarter earnings are seen taking a hit from a falling domestic currency, ongoing corruption scandal and slump in crude oil prices — a triple-pronged hit that has crippled Brazil's broader economy as well.

What's more, Petrobras is gripped by one of the largest strikes of the last two decades and was recently downgraded to "junk" status by Standard & Poor's (S&P) — although neither of these blows will impact results for the third quarter. Speculative grade or junk debt refers to bonds that carry a rating of "BB" or lower from S&P or 'Ba' or below from Moody's Investors Service.

Petrobras gas station in Brazil
Justin Solomon | CNBC

Ahead of its report, due after the market close, shares of Petrobras listed on the New York Stock Exchange traded at around $4.79 — down roughly 1.4 percent on the day and a stark 54 percent over the last 12 months.

Analysts polled by Reuters forecast that the bedrock of the Brazilian economy will post earnings per share of only 4 cents — steady on the same quarter a year before — on revenue of $22.9 billion.

"The company has had a rough ride in the last few months, facing roadblocks in the form of various internal and macroeconomic headwinds. Petrobras is currently experiencing the crippling effects of one of the worst worker strikes in the last 20 years, while a falling domestic currency, an ongoing corruption scandal, and the recent S&P downgrade are also adding to the company's woes," analysts at Trefis, reported on Wednesday.

"Additionally, Petrobras' average realizations for both upstream and downstream segments are down drastically in 2015 due to the extended period of low crude oil prices. We believe that these problems will persist in the near term and Petrobras will resultantly continue to operate in a challenging environment for the next few months," they added.

On Monday, the state-backed company reported that the strike coordinated by oil workers' unions was knocking around 115,000 barrels per day from Brazilian oil output. On Wednesday, Petrobras offered striking workers a 9.54 percent wage hike, according to Reuters, in an attempt to end the strike.

— By CNBC's Katy Barnato. Follow her on Twitter @KatyBarnato.