By Juliette Portala
(Reuters) -Dutch tank storage firm Vopak upgraded on Friday its core profit and operating cash return outlook for the full year while continuing to cash in on a strong momentum in renewable energy and liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The fall in Russian oil and gas supplies after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine has left Western economies scrambling to plug the energy gap ahead of winter, pushing them to expand LNG capacity.
"LNG is still a fossil fuel, but it's a cleaner, much cleaner fuel," Vopak finance chief Michiel Gilsing told Reuters in a call, citing a "very positive" long-term outlook.
"It's also quite clear from all the scenarios that LNG is required as a transition fuel to get away from coal and get away from oil. So it's almost unavoidable," he added.
Shares in Vopak jumped 12.6% by 0840 GMT, heading for their best day since February 2018.
In its shift towards new fuels, including ammonia and hydrogen, the company said it would re-purpose 22 oil storage tanks in Los Angeles to renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel for about 30 million euros.
"Ultimately, (flying) can be sustainable, but it's still a long way out," Gilsing stated.
The group upgraded its forecast for full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to around 890 million euros ($909.58 million), from a previous range between 830 and 850 million euros.
It also revised upwards its outlook for proportional operating cash return, which it expects to be a minimum of 10.5% by year-end, a higher return than anticipated by 2025.
Gilsing said Vopak would review its guidance for the latter early February, which ING analyst Quirijn Mulder said it would probably be raised.
($1 = 0.9785 euros)
(Reporting by Juliette Portala, editing by Jacqueline Wong, Uttaresh.V and Tomasz Janowski)