February 17, 2017 / 9:22 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 2-Dutch oil storage company Vopak warns of wait for profit growth

* 2016 core profit misses estimates

* Does not expect 2017 EBITDA to exceed 2016 levels

* Shares slump to one-year low (Adds details, CFO comments)

By Alan Charlish and Michal Aleksandrowicz

Feb 17 (Reuters) - Dutch oil and chemical storage company Vopak warned investors that core profit might not rise until 2019 as divestment plans and cost cuts take time to pay off, sending its shares down as much as 10 percent.

The Rotterdam-based company said it expects the benefits of cost-cutting measures and investments in its infrastructure and new technology to be felt from 2019. It plans to invest 850 million euros ($905 million) between 2017 and 2019.

Chief Financial Officer Jack de Kreij told Reuters that Vopak expects to return to growth in 2019 but that it was not giving guidance for 2018.

“We are moving slightly sideways from 2016, 2017, but please bear in mind that in order to create that long-term growth, which we are aiming for, we are incurring additional costs at this particular moment,” de Kreij said.

The company’s 2016 EBITDA, excluding exceptional items, rose 1 percent to 822.3 million euros, but missed analysts’ estimates. Revenue fell by 3 percent to 1.35 billion euros.

Vopak said it expects that EBITDA this year will not exceed the 2016 figure. Reuters poll estimates had forecast EBITDA growing to 844 million euros in 2017.

The company said that occupancy rates for its terminals were at 93 percent, up 1 percent year-on-year. For the current year, it expects an average occupancy rate of at least 90 percent.

ING analysts said the results were a disappointment “on all fronts”. ING had a “Buy” recommendation on the stock.

The incentive to store oil is diminishing as the futures curve has shifted from contango, in which longer-dated futures are more expensive than near-term contracts, into the reverse scenario, backwardation, after OPEC production cuts.

However, de Kreij played down its impact.

“When people are talking about implications of oil prices and contango, in fact you are talking about let’s say a few basis points, a few percent points on the total occupancy rate but you are not talking about swings of 10, 20 percent on our utilisation,” de Kreij said. ($1 = 0.9377 euros) (Reporting by Michal Aleksandrowicz and Alan Charlish in Gdynia; Editing by Kim Coghill/Keith Weir)

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