Source AP ©

JSC Norilsk Nickel rises 1st-half profits up 60 percent

Net profits of JSC Norilsk Nickel rose 60 percent to US$3.79 billion (EUR2.69 billion) in the first half of 2007, thanks to record-high global prices for its primary product - nickel.

The increase, up from US$2.37 billion (EUR1.68 billion) in the same period last year, is some US$120 million (EUR85 million) below a consensus forecast of six analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

Results were calculated under international accounting standards

The company, which produces a fifth of the world's nickel and half its palladium, said revenues from metal sales rose to US$7.65 million (EUR5.42 million), up 82 percent from the same period in 2006.

Record world prices contributed to the sharp increase in revenues, as well as the acquisition of the Harjavalta refinery in Finland, bought in March from Cleveland-based OM Group Inc. as part of a US$408 million (EUR289.2 million) deal.

Norilsk has had a busy year of acquisitions, a major share buyback and an ongoing shuffle at the executive level.

In June, the company gained control of Canadian miner LionOre in a US$6.4 billion (EUR4.54 billion) deal - the largest-ever Russian purchase overseas - which added nickel mines and processing plants in Australia, South Africa and Botswana to the company's portfolio.

Norilsk also controls the only U.S. platinum and palladium miner - Stillwater Mining Co. of Montana.