Eni SpA, Italy's largest oil company, said its fourth-quarter profit rose 24% to $2.32 billion as the company said higher oil prices and increased demand helped bolster the results, similar comments to what investors have been hearing from other oil majors this earnings season.
Eni (E), which is heavily exposed to natural gas, was tepid with its 2011 guidance because of depressed gas prices. Management expects the European gas market, a key business for the company, to remain depressed as sluggish demand growth is insufficient to absorb current oversupplies, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In the fourth quarter, Eni's production rose to 1.954 million barrels of oil equivalent a day compared with the 1.866 million a year earlier. The company said it expects its 2011 output will grow ''slightly'' as it starts new projects in Iraq and Venezuela.
Last year, Eni estimated an average annual hydrocarbon-output growth of more than 2.5%, and 2% through 2016, the Journal reported. Its 2010 dividend will be flat with the 2009 payout of roughly $2.35 a share.