Erste Group analysts decided to downgrade recommendations for Petrom shares (SNP), the largest company in Romania by market value, from "Buy" to "Accumulation" and calculated a target price of 0.17 lei per share, 11 percent above the current quota, according to a report of the Austrian group, NewsIn informs.
Despite the downgrade, analysts remain optimistic and expect the share price to follow the rising oil price.

We have always said that investors buying Petrom shares are mainly drawn by the huge consolidating and efficiency-improving potential. At the moment, however, we think that by buying Petrom shares an investor may speculate the predicted growth of the oil price, shows the Erste analysis.

The Austrian group expects an average price of 58 dollars per barrel this year and a long-term price of 80 dollars per barrel.

Austria's OMV, the majority owner of Petrom, received a "Buy" recommendation despite the fact that the target price was lowered to 39 euros per share. Erste grades positively the players on the up-stream segment, OMV and Petrom, as they predict a profitability rise in the segment.

Their strong exposure on the upstream segment seems to be an advantage, mainly due to the envisioned oil price rise over the coming months, reads the report.

Petrom reported a net profit of 1.022 billion lei for 2008, down 43 percent over the previous year, on losses registered in the last quarter. The company saw a net profit of 1.778 billion lei in 2007.

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