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Gazprom 9-Month Profit Dips, Sales Exceed Forecasts

Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom reported on Friday better-than-expected financial results for the third quarter of 2007, citing higher prices in Russia and other former Soviet countries.

Gazprom said its profit fell by 2.8 percent to 124.440 billion roubles ($4.878 billion) in the third quarter from 128.029 billion roubles ($4.775 billion) in the same period of 2006.

In dollar terms, profit rose by 2.2 percent because the rouble appreciated over the period. Analysts had expected net profit to fall by 9 percent to $4.089 billion.

Revenues rose by 5.4 percent to 516.175 billion roubles ($20.234 billion) in the third quarter of 2007 compared to 489.904 billion roubles ($18.27 billion) in the same year-ago period and to analysts' average forecast of $20.025 billion.

Gazprom, the world's largest gas producer, which provides a quarter of Europe's gas needs, said its net sales of natural gas outside the former Soviet Union were down by 1 percent in Jan-Sept following lower sales volumes following a warm winter.

But gas sales to former Soviet countries rose by 21 percent to 190.374 billion roubles in the period with a 27 percent increase in average realized prices.

Gazprom said it cut net debt by over a quarter to 583.435 billion roubles as of September 2007 from 807.814 billion roubles as of December 2006.

In the first nine months of 2007, net profit stood at 454.49 billion roubles versus 460.27 billion roubles in the first nine months of 2006.

Reuters used an average rate of 25.51 and 26.81 roubles per dollar for the third quarter of 2007 and the third quarter of 2006, respectively, to convert the results.