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OSLO, July 28 (Reuters) - Norway's Equinor posted a sharp increase in second-quarter profit on Wednesday as prices of oil and gas rose, but its earnings fell short of expectations as its domestic Norwegian unit missed forecasts.
Adjusted earnings before tax rose to $4.64 billion in the April-June quarter from $350 million in the pandemic-hit year-earlier period, the company said, lagging the $4.8 billion predicted in a poll of 20 analysts compiled by Equinor.
The company also said it would begin the first phase of a long-planned share buyback, and aims to spend $300 million on the program by Sept. 28.
"Strict capital discipline and a net cash flow of more than $4.5 billion reduced our net debt ratio to 16.4% and make us robust for volatility in commodity prices going forward," Chief Executive Anders Opedal said in a statement.
The net debt ratio was down from 24.6% in the first quarter.
The state-controlled firm, under pressure from minority shareholders to boost its climate ambitions, last month vowed to speed up investments in renewable energy and low carbon solutions even as its petroleum output continues to climb. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Tom Hogue and Kim Coghill)