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Syncrude (MARK RALSTON/Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
Syncrude (MARK RALSTON/Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Canadian Oil Sands profit jumps on higher output Add to ...

Canadian Oil Sands Trust, which owns the largest share of the massive Syncrude oil sands mine, has posted better than expected fourth-quarter results.

The Calgary-based concern said its profit rose from $96-million, or 20 cents a share, in the last three months of 2009 to $311-million, or 64 cents a share in the same 2010 period.

Revenues jumped from $895-million to $936-million, topping analyst expectations of $850-million.

"COS has completed a successful year in 2010, with Syncrude having achieved the second-highest annual production in its history," said chief executive officer Marcel Coutu.

On an annual basis, Canadian Oil Sands earned $866-million, or $1.83 a share, up from $432-million, or 89 cents a share.

Revenues for the full-year were $3.46-billion, compared with 2009's $2.78-billion.

"We quickly recaptured the higher profit margins of a rising oil price due to our unhedged position, resulting in cash flow and earnings more than doubling year over year," said Mr. Coutu.

Canadian Oil Sands converted from an income trust into a corporation late last year ahead of a new federal tax on trusts that recently came into effect.

In December, the Calgary-based concern said its first-quarter dividend would be 20 cents per share - a 60 per cent cut from its pre-conversion payout.

Canadian Oil Sands has said it intends to pay out a variable quarterly dividend to investors - much in the way it handled distributions as a trust.

"As forecasted in early December, we have declared a 20 cent dividend, which primarily reflects the reinvestment of a greater share of our cash flow to maintain and grow our mining and bitumen production facilities over the coming years," Mr. Coutu said in a statement Thursday.

"We also take a longer-term view when establishing dividend levels to help minimize frequent adjustments, particularly in response to moves in crude oil prices."

The company's 2011 capital budget has been pegged at $927-million, higher than what many analysts had been expecting.

Canadian Oil Sands owns a 37 per cent stake in the Syncrude Canada oil sands mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta., the biggest project of its kind in the world.

Syncrude's other owners include Imperial Oil Ltd., Nexen Inc., Suncor Energy Inc., China's Sinopec, Mocal Energy Ltd. and Murphy Oil Co. Ltd.

The Canadian Press

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