Oilfield equipment maker Saipem said yesterday 2003 net profit edged up 2.6 per cent and added that 2004 was seen in line with the last 12 months as orderbook growth offset the effect of the strong euro.

Saipem, controlled by oil and gas group ENI, said in a statement it had booked a net profit of 196 million euros ($246 million), in line with forecasts and against 191 million euros in 2002.
Operating profit came in at 303 million euros, just shy of estimates and broadly unchanged from 302 million euros in 2002.

Revenue – 70 per cent of which is denominated in dollars – rose to 4.23 billion euros from 3.15 billion a year ago, helped by recently acquired oilfield services company Bouygues Offshore and by strength in offshore construction. Saipem's order backlog stood at 5.23 billion euros at the end of 2003.

Saipem said the substantial order backlog and synergies from Bouygues would help counteract the effects of the strong euro.