Repsol, Spain's biggest oil group, reported on Thursday a higher-than expected 11.2 % gain in first-quarter net profit to 765 million euros ($1.1 billion) owing mainly to higher crude prices. "The 2011 earnings increase is mainly due to improved oil and gas price realisation prices," the company said in a statement. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected an average of 557.4 million euros net profit in the first quarter. The company said its operating profit rose 1.611 billion euros, and had increased investments by 43 % to more than 1.1 billion euros. "We are in a privileged situation to undertake new growth projects and continue our geographical diversification policy," said chief executive Antonio Brufau. The company's shares dropped by 1.36 % in early trading on the Madrid stock exchange that was down 1.18 %.