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OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's Equinor raised its dividend and posted a bigger-than-expected rise in first-quarter operating profits on Thursday, boosted by higher oil and gas prices as well as large one-off gains at its renewable energy business.
It will pay a dividend of $0.15 per share for the quarter, up from $0.12 paid for the final three months of 2020.
Adjusted profit before interest and tax (EBIT) rose to $5.47 billion in the quarter from $2.05 billion during the same period a year ago, exceeding the $5.3 billion predicted in a poll of 22 analysts compiled by Equinor.
"With sustained improvements and capital discipline, we are able to capture value from recovering oil and gas prices and achieve our best quarterly results since 2014," Chief Executive Anders Opedal said in a statement.
It was the first time Equinor reported detailed earnings from its renewables divison, which benefitted strongly from the company's sale of stakes in wind farms off the coasts of Britain and the United States.
The unit's combined gains from divestments amounted to some $1.4 billion for the quarter, the company said.
Equinor is the first major oil firm to report its renewables segment separately, while European peers such as BP, Shell and Total combine their renewables business results with natural gas, marketing or other segments.
(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Terje Solsvik)