Russia's Polyus 2017 adjusted net profit up 7%

MOSCOW, Feb 15 (Reuters) – Polyus, Russia's largest gold producer, posted a 7 percent increase in 2017 adjusted net profit to $1.02 billion, the company said on Thursday.

The gold producer saw rising sales last year and expects to both invest and produce more in 2018, as it aims to ramp up production at its newly-launched Natalka gold deposit in Russia's far east.

In the fourth quarter, Polyus saw adjusted net profit of $242 million, down 19 percent quarter-on-quarter. The company did not provide a comparison with the last quarter of 2016.

Polyus's full-year revenue was up 11 percent to $2.7 billion, while adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was $1.7 billion, also up 11 percent from a year earlier.

The company reported adjusted EBITDA at $465 million for the fourth quarter, down 2 percent from the third quarter and slightly missing analysts' estimates of $469 million.

Polyus released strong fourth quarter results, as expected, said Oleg Petropavlovsky, analyst at BCS Global Markets, adding the 2 percent decline in EBITDA quarter-on-quarter was "negligible".

The company's shares were up 1.9 percent on the day.

In its report, Polyus said it plans to invest approximately $850 million across the business, up from $804 million in 2017. This will include $150 million of capitalised operating expenses related to Natalka, its major gold mine in Russia's far east.

Previously, Polyus had upgraded its 2018 production forecast and said it planned to speed up the ramp-up of Natalka's operations.

Around the same time, Polyus said it would also work on refinancing its $3.08 billion net debt, focusing a new $250 million bond issue on this goal.

It also altered its policy on dividends for 2017 and 2018, setting a minimum of $550 million, or 30 percent of EBITDA, whichever is higher.

Polyus is controlled by the family of the Russian tycoon and lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov, who was arrested in France in November on tax evasion charges. Kerimov denies the allegations, according to Russian media reports.

(Reporting by Polina Devitt; Writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Katya Golubkova and Adrian Croft)