The U.S. oil and gas producers' first-quarter results benefited from higher oil prices as well as growing production from shale plays in the Permian Basin and Bakken.
Apache Beats Profit Estimates On Higher Crude Prices
Apache posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on May 2, as it benefited from higher U.S. light crude prices.
Oil prices have recovered from lows hit in 2016, currently trading around $70 per barrel. This helped selling prices at the Houston, Texas-based company to rise to $64.27 per barrel from $51.20 last year.
Apache said total production fell 8.5% to 440,336 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) compared to a year earlier, but the figure beat analysts' estimates of 430,940 boe/d according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Production was largely helped by an increase in the Permian Basin, the largest U.S. oil field, which rose 24% compared with a year-ago and was 41.6% of total production.
The company specifically noted that the Permian Basin will be a key operation in 2018.
Apache also raised its full-year U.S. output forecast to 250,000-258,000 boe/d from a previous range of 245,000-255,000 boe/d, driven mostly by more operating wells in the first quarter.
Net income attributable to Apache's common shareholders fell to $145 million, or 38 cents per share, in the quarter ended March 31, from $213 million, or 56 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, the company earned 32 cents share, higher than analysts' average expectation of 30 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Rival Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO) beat profit estimates on May 2 on higher production and realized prices for oil.
Continental Resources Profit Surges Past Wall Street's Forecast
Continental Resources, the U.S. shale producer controlled by billionaire Harold Hamm, posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on May 2 thanks to rising oil prices and spiking output in its core North Dakota Bakken Shale operations.
For the second consecutive quarter, Continental bested rival Whiting Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: WLL) to be the largest oil producer in the Bakken, solidifying that crown and its place as one of the most-prolific U.S. shale companies.
"We are breaking away from our peers and capitalizing on decades of exploration success and operational," Hamm, the company's CEO and largest shareholder, said in a statement.
The quest to regain the top producer spot in one of the most-prolific U.S. shale basins had eluded Hamm's Continental since at least 2014 when Whiting bought smaller rival Kodiak Oil and Gas.
That deal, though, saddled Whiting with billions in debt just as oil prices cratered, giving Continental an edge as it spent cash to improve ways it fracks wells.
Continental's success for the second consecutive quarter over Whiting highlights the importance of improving hydraulic fracturing processes, including the use of larger amounts of sand, which the Oklahoma City-based company has helped pioneer.
Continental's North Dakota production jumped about 50% in the first quarter, leap-frogging Whiting's output in the state by about 50,000 boe/d.
"We are clearly seeing a structural uplift in well performance across the Bakken field," Jack Stark, Continental's president, said in a statement.
Denver-based Whiting, which posted a better-than-expected first-quarter profit of its own on April 30, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Continental posted net income of $233.9 million, or 63 cents per share, compared with $469,000, or less than a penny per share, in the year-ago quarter, when oil prices plummeted—and the company's production costs were higher.
Excluding one-time items, Continental earned 68 cents per share. By that measure, analysts expected earnings of 64 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Overall production rose 35% to 287,410 boe/d.
Continental plans to hold a conference call to discuss the quarterly results on May 3.
Pioneer First-Quarter Profit Beats Expectations
U.S. shale oil producer Pioneer Natural Resources also posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on May 2 on higher oil prices and production in the company's Permian Basin operations.
The company posted net income of $178 million, or $1.04 per share, compared with a net loss of $42 million, or 25 cents per share, in the year-ago period.
Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.66 per share. By that measure, analysts expected earnings of $1.50 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Production rose 25% to 312,000 boe/d. For the second quarter, Pioneer expects to pump about 312,000 boe/d to 322,000 boe/d.
Shares of Pioneer rose less than 1% to $197.96 in trading after the market close.
Pioneer executives expect to host a conference call with investors on May 3 to discuss the quarterly results.
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