February 26, 2019 / 12:27 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Caltex Australia profit beats forecast, to buyback shares

(Adds details, and S&P comment on share buyback)

Feb 26 (Reuters) - Petrol station and convenience store owner Caltex Australia reported a higher than forecast full-year underlying net profit on Tuesday and announced a share buyback, pushing its shares to a four-month high.

Caltex said the A$260 million ($186.4 million) off-market share buyback at A$1 per share was expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2019.

Underlying net profit fell 12 percent to A$558 million for the year ended Dec 31., but still surpassed guidance given by the company in mid-December of A$533 million to A$553 million.

Caltex shares jumped as much as 4.9 percent in morning trade to A$28.95, their highest since last October.

S&P Global Ratings said in a statement that Caltex would be able to absorb the planned buyback and still keep net debt within the company’s stated ratio to earnings.

Caltex’s convenience store segment reported earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of A$307 million, beating the December guidance of A$295 million to A$305 million.

The company said a review into whether to sell certain convenience retail assets had concluded that the option was not “financially compelling.”

Caltex said last August that it was considering selling assets that it valued at about A$2 billion.

It declared a final dividend of 61 cents per share, in line with a year ago.

$1 = 1.3951 Australian dollars Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan and Syed Saif Hussain Naqvi in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin

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