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Aker Yards Reports 27% Rise In Fourth Quarter Net Profit

Europe's largest shipbuilder, Aker Yards, on Friday reported a nearly 27% increase in net profits for the fourth quarter of 2006 from a year earlier.

The Oslo-based group said its net profit for the October through December quarter was 486 million kroner ($78.6 million, 58.9 million euros) compared to 384 million kroner a year earlier.

It said revenues increased 60% to 7.8 billion kroner ($1.26 billion, 945 million euros) for the latest quarter, from 4.9 billion kroner a year earlier.

Aker Yards said the gain was due to high activity in all three of its business sectors, which are cruise ships, offshore and specialized vessels, and merchant vessels, as well as the acquisition of new shipyards.

The shipyard group also reported higher costs as a result of the increased activity, and said there were important integration processes under way in all three of its sectors after acquisitions.

"The pressure on subcontractors is high, and demands a careful follow up in order to reduce the risk of delays on projects," the annual report said.

The result was announced before trading opened on the Oslo stock exchange.

The company said it expects the market for cruise vessels and offshore and specialized vessels to remain strong through the year. Its projections for container ships build by its merchant ship sector was expected to remain weak, while it expected a positive trend for other types of merchant ships.

Aker Yards is Europe's largest, and the world's fifth largest, shipbuilder, with 17 shipyards in Norway, Finland, Germany, France, Romania, Ukraine and Brazil.