Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Netflix profit doubles on U.S., foreign subscriber growth

(Reuters) - Netflix Inc said on Monday its quarterly profit more than doubled, boosted by strong growth in U.S. and international subscribers as a price increase for its most popular U.S. video streaming plan did not deter new users.
Netflix added 570,000 U.S. customers in the second fiscal quarter ended June 30, passing 50 million worldwide subscribers for the first time. It added 1.12 million customers in international markets.
The company's shares rose nearly 1 percent at $456.21 in after-hours trading, after the company also said it expected average revenue per user to rise slowly as it wins over more subscribers at the new prices.
The company in May increased the price of its most popular video streaming plan by $1 per month to $9 for new customers in the United States — the company's first price hike in its largest market in three years.
The company suffered a consumer exodus and stock plunge after it announced an unpopular price increase in July 2011.
Netflix executives also said they were contemplating an eventual move into China, the world's most populous country. "It's conspicuously large, and it's conspicuously a growing and very strong economy," David Wells, Netflix's chief financial officer, said on a video-streamed conference call with analysts. "Look for the future in terms of an answer from us in China."
Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings cautioned that any move into China, if it happens, would occur far in the future. "We're not thinking about it hard right now," Hastings said in an interview. "We are really focused on Europe at this point."
The company said it planned to expand into Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg in September, taking its international addressable market to more than 180 million broadband households — double the current U.S. market.
Netflix has invested in original series such as "House of Cards" and the Emmy-nominated "Orange is the New Black" to square off against competition from online video players Inc and Hulu. The June release of a second season of "Orange" helped lure customers during the quarter, Netflix said.
The company's profit rose to $71 million, or $1.15 per share, from $29.5 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $1.34 billion from $1.07 billion.
Analysts on average had expected $1.16 per share in profit on revenue of $1.34 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Netflix also repeated its opposition to the planned merger of Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc. The company called on regulators to block the merger or place a condition that would prevent the combined company from charging interconnection fees to deliver video over their broadband networks.

U.S. consumer inflation rises on high gasoline prices

(Reuters) - U.S. consumer prices rose in June as the cost of gasoline surged, but the underlying trend remained consistent with a gradual build-up of inflationary pressures.
The Labor Department said on Tuesday its Consumer Price Index increased 0.3 percent last month, with gasoline accounting for two-thirds of the gain, after May's 0.4 percent rise.
In the 12 months through June, the CPI increased 2.1 percent after a similar rise in May.
Inflation is creeping up as the economy's recovery becomes more durable, a welcome development for some Federal Reserve officials who had worried that price pressures were too low.
The steady increases have led some economists to predict that a separate inflation gauge watched by the Fed, currently running below the U.S. central bank's 2 percent target, could breach that target by year-end as an acceleration in job growth lifts wages.
Fed Chair Janet warned last week the Fed could raise interest rates sooner and more rapidly than currently envisioned if the labor market continued to improve faster than anticipated by policymakers.
The dollar reversed losses against the euro on the data, while U.S. stock index futures extended gains. Prices for U.S. Treasury debt trimmed losses.
Last month's increase in the CPI was in line with economists' expectations. Gasoline prices jumped 3.3 percent, the largest rise in a year, after increasing 0.7 percent in May.
While prices for electricity also rose, they slowed from May's brisk 2.3 percent increase. Food prices edged up 0.1 percent in June, the smallest rise since January
Food prices have now advanced for six straight months. A drought in California last year has been pushing up prices, but the momentum is ebbing.
Prices for dairy products, cereals, fruit and vegetables fell last month. The index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs rose, however.
Stripping out food and energy prices, the so-called core CPI rose 0.1 percent, slowing after May's 0.3 percent increase.
In the 12 months through June, the core CPI increased 1.9 percent after rising 2.0 percent rise in May. Economists had forecast the core CPI rising 0.2 percent from May and 2.0 percent from a year-ago.
The core CPI was held back by declines in prices for new motor vehicles and used trucks.

The cost of shelter moderated a bit as did airline fares and medical care services, which were flat. There were big increases in tobacco prices and the cost of household furnishing and operations rose for the first time in a year.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bukit Asam’s 1st-Half Profit Rises About a Third on Higher Sales

Jakarta. Bukit Asam, a state-owned coal miner, posted a nearly 33 percent increase in profit for the first half on rising sales.

Net income for the company called PTBA rose to Rp 1.1 trillion ($95 million) in the January-June period from Rp 870 billion in the same period a year earlier, according to a financial statement published in Investor Daily on Monday. Sales increased 19 percent to Rp 6.4 trillion.

The coal miner said in February that it aimed to sell 24.7 million metric tons of coal this year, up 39 percent from 2013. It forecast producing 19.8 million tons of coal this year, 31 percent more than in 2013.

To meet higher production volumes, PTBA will complete the expansion of capacity at its Tarahan Port by the second half this year. It also expects the port expansion plan to lower transport costs for PTBA’s buyers.

The port’s capacity, which is currently able to receive and ship up to 20 million tons of coal, will increase to 25 million metric tons per year upon completion.

Jakarta Globe

China Boosts June Net Diesel Exports to Highest in Four Years

China raised its net diesel exports to the highest level in four years as domestic demand trailed output growth amid a slowing economy.
Overseas sales of the fuel in the world’s largest energy consumer exceeded imports by about 440,200 metric tons in June, according to data e-mailed by the General Administration of Customs in Beijing today. That’s the highest since May 2010.
“China is expected to export 300,000 to 400,000 tons of diesel a month regularly as domestic production grows faster than demand,” Chen Li, an analyst with ICIS-C1 Energy, said by phone from Guangzhou. China’s diesel demand is estimated to grow 0.3 percent to 1 percent this year, while output will expand about 1 percent, the Shanghai-based consultant said last month.
The nation may export a record 3 million tons of the fuel this year, exceeding the previous high of 2.87 million tons in 2010, ICIS-C1 said. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.’s Tianjin refinery got a new diesel export quota this year, according to ICIS-C1.
China’s imports of fuel oil, used as refinery feedstock and to power ships, fell 31 percent from a year ago to 1.4 million tons in June, the second-lowest this year. Purchases in May were 1.13 million, the lowest since at least 2003. Imports declined 32 percent to 9.8 million tons in the first half.
The nation’s pipeline natural gas imports rose to a record high for a second month in June as supplies from Myanmar continued to increase, today’s data show. Imports were at 2.1 million tons last month.

Brent Steady as Supply Seen Safe Amid Russia Standoff

Brent swung between gains and losses amid speculation that supplies from Russia, the world’s biggest energy exporter, will be unaffected by the downing of a Malaysian Air flight. West Texas Intermediate rose.
Brent futures were 0.1 percent lower in London after falling 0.6 percent on July 18. President Vladimir Putin faces pressure to respond after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said there’s “extraordinary circumstantial evidence” that Russia provided the missile that Ukrainian rebels used to bring down Flight 17. Money managers cut bullish bets on WTI by the most since March 2013, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Libya is preparing to export crude from two eastern ports that reopened this month after a yearlong protest.
“Oil prices have come down once again due to a limited response so far to the MH-17 airline disaster,” Abhishek Deshpande, oil markets analyst at Natixis SA in London, said in an e-mail. “The fundamentals are clearly pointing towards sufficient supply of oil with the return of Libyan oil.”
Brent for September settlement was at $107.09 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, down 15 cents, at 1:34 p.m. London time. The contract dropped 65 cents to $107.24 on July 18. The volume of all futures traded was about 11 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day. Prices are down about 3.4 percent this year.
WTI for August delivery, which expires tomorrow, rose 30 cents to $103.43 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The more-active September future was 4 cents higher at $101.99. The U.S. benchmark crude was at a discount of $5.07 to Brent.

Russia Standoff

Brent rose 0.5 percent last week, the first weekly increase in a month, after Flight 17 was shot down over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, killing 298 passengers and crew. The incident threatened to intensify the worst crisis between the West and Russia since the end of the Cold War.
“We don’t expect really that the European Union or the international community to go so far that we’re going to see a disruption in energy supply,” Dominic Schnider, the Singapore-based head of commodities research at UBS AG’s wealth management unit, said in an interview on Bloomberg television today.
The plane crash on July 17 came hours after the U.S. and EU imposed a new round of sanctions on Russian banks and energy and defense firms in their latest attempt to punish the government in Moscow over its annexation of Crimea in March. OAO Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company, and natural gas producer OAO Novatek were among those covered by the penalties.
“We picked up the imagery of this launch,” Kerry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program yesterday. “We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing.”

Mideast Unrest

Net-long positions on WTI shrank by 45,107 to 259,259 futures and options, the lowest level since the week ended Jan. 21, the CFTC said in its weekly Commitments of Traders report on July 18. Long bets were down 10 percent while shorts climbed by 38 percent, according to the Washington-based regulator.
For Brent, hedge funds and money managers cut net-long positions by 25 percent to 151,981 lots last week, the lowest since April 8, according to data from the ICE exchange.
In Libya, the holder of Africa’s biggest oil reserves, rockets and rocket-propelled grenades damaged aircraft as week-long clashes continued near Tripoli International Airport. The unrest flared as the government prepared to resume crude exports from two terminals in the country’s east after regaining control of the facilities from rebels.
The violence is putting recovery of supply at risk, according to Barclays Plc. “What we are seeing now is a very fragile recovery,” analyst Miswin Mahesh said today by e-mail.

Iran Talks

Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza entered its bloodiest phase yet, heightening instability in the Middle East. Militants killed 13 soldiers, while fighting in one neighborhood claimed the lives of dozens of Palestinians. The advance of troops and tanks last week marked the first significant ground operation into the coastal enclave since December 2008.
Negotiators from the U.S., Russia, China, Germany, France and the U.K. agreed with Iranian officials to continue talks at intervals until Nov. 24, Secretary of State John Kerry said in comments posted on the State Department website on July 18. The parties failed to reach yesterday’s deadline for a deal ensuring Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful in return for lifting sanctions.
Iran’s oil exports will remain near the highest level in two years as talks with six global powers over the Persian Gulf state’s nuclear program are extended, according to six analysts in a survey.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Oil Tanker Rates Seen Extending Surge With Libya Crude to Return

The biggest surge in oil-shipping costs since January is poised to persist as shipments from Libya act as a catalyst for Asian oil refineries to import more crude from Atlantic Ocean suppliers, RS Platou Markets AS said.
Libya’s Oil Ministry said July 16 that the nation’s largest and third-largest ports will resume shipments next month after a yearlong blockade by protesters seeking a bigger share of the nation’s crude sales. The North African country holds the continent’s biggest oil reserves.
Oil tanker rates as measured by the Baltic Dirty Tanker Index jumped 42 percent to 896 points since early June as refineries returning from routine maintenance booked extra ships. An increase in Libyan supplies could drive down the relative cost of crude in the Atlantic, resulting in more shipments from the region to Asia, according to Frode Moerkedal, an analyst at Platou in Oslo. The firm is part of Norway’s largest shipbroking group.
“If Libyan oil terminals stay open, tanker rates could go higher,” Moerkedal said in an e-mail today. The “return of Libyan oil could give the market another shot in the arm.”
The premium for Brent crude, a benchmark for suppliers in the Mediterranean and wider Atlantic Ocean, fell to $3.32 a barrel more than Dubai, a benchmark in the Persian Gulf, according to data from PVM Oil Associates Ltd. The premium was as high as $3.85 on June 12.
Bookings of very large crude carriers, the industry’s biggest ships, are already climbing for loading from West Africa. Charters rose to 31 this month from 24 in June, according to data from Galbraith’s Ltd., a shipbroker in London.
The ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf were handed over this month by rebels seeking self-rule in the east of the country.
Shipping rates rose because Asian refineries booked more vessels as they returned from a higher-than-normal round of seasonal maintenance, Nikhil Jain, a shipping analyst at Drewry Shipping Consultants in New Delhi, said in an e-mail.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Russia's Rosneft says to honor agreements despite sanctions

(Reuters) - Russia's top oil producer, Rosneft, said on Friday it would continue to work on its existing projects and agreements and honor its obligations despite U.S. sanctions on the company over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis.
The company, in which BP holds a 19.75 percent stake, also said it has sufficient liquidity to service its debts, and its financial position allows it to deliver on the key indicators of its strategy and dividend policy.
"The company is currently in the process of a legal review of the announced sanctions, and is consulting its international partners," Rosneft said in a statement.