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Total First-Quarter Net Profit Falls 17%

French oil major Total said Friday first-quarter net profit dropped 17% as improving refinery margins failed to offset lower crude prices and a weaker dollar.

The company also warned it won't meet its previous target of 6% growth in hydrocarbon output for 2007 due to persistent disruptions in Nigeria, and lower contribution from Azerbaijan and Venezuela.

Net income declined to 3.05 billion euros ($4.15 billion), down from 3.68 billion euros in the same period a year ago, the company said.

Stripping out special items and Total's share of amortization of intangibles related to the merger that created Sanofi-Aventis, adjusted or underlying net profit came in at 2.99 billion euros ($4.07 billion) in the first quarter, down 11%.

Total is one of the largest Sanofi-Aventis shareholders, with a 13% stake.

The quarterly figure was in line with market expectations for adjusted net profit of 2.92 billion euros ($3.97 billion), based on a Dow Jones Newswires estimate.

Average hydrocarbons production stood at about 2.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in the quarter, unchanged from 2.4 million in the same period a year ago, the company said.

Total expects to record more than 5% annual growth a year in oil-and-gas output on average between 2006 and 2010, a trend that should propel production to 3 million barrels of oil equivalent a day by then, the company said.