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The improvement from NOK 2,451 million (USD 297.8 million) in the first quarter of 2000 reflects the continued high oil and gas prices, a strong US dollar, and a considerable upswing in Agri.

Operating income for the first quarter was NOK 7,445 million (USD 836.6 million), which is NOK 716 million higher than for the first quarter of 2000, and also NOK 672 million higher than the fourth quarter last year which included the positive non-recurring effect of NOK 470 million in connection with pensions.

Earnings per share amounted to NOK 12.40 (USD 1.39) in the first quarter of 2001 (2000: NOK 9.40; (USD 1.14)).

"Also in the first quarter of 2001, there are several pleasing trends in the development of the results," says President and CEO Egil Myklebust. "Again, it is Agri that has achieved the greatest relative improvement with an operating income which has almost doubled to NOK 919 million. The Agri improvement process, "Hydro Agri Turnaround" is ahead of plan and the level of ambition will be raised further.

"Oil and Energy has maintained its strong results from 2000, which were bolstered by continuing high oil and gas prices, but it is noteworthy that the Energy Division achieved an operating income of over half a billion kroner.

"Light Metals has considerably improved its net income after a weaker fourth quarter, although it remains lower than for the first quarter last year, which was exceptionally high due to good results from trading.

"We are satisfied with the development of our results, but we now face greater uncertainty in our most important markets in connection with the economic developments in the US and Europe, for example, with regard to our activities directed to the automotive industry. We are highly motivated into meeting our ambitious targets for cost reductions and productivity increases.

"Hydro's financial position is further improved and gives a good basis for continuous improvement," Egil Myklebust points out. 

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