Noble Swings to 4Q Profit on Strong Revenue Growth, Year-Earlier Write-Down

Noble Energy Inc. swung to a fourth-quarter profit as the oil-and-gas explorer posted strong sales growth and as the year-earlier included a big asset write-down.

The company has been selling its noncore assets to focus its spending on higher-return areas, including horizontal drilling operations in the U.S. and offshore projects in the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean, and West Africa.

Noble in November said it will bump capital spending up by 11% next year to $3.9 billion, and said its oil and gas output will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 17%. About 60% of the capital expenditures are allocated for U.S. onshore projects, while 10% of the capital budget is targeted for its operations in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Noble Energy reported a profit of $251 million, or $1.39 a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $296 million, or $1.67 a share. Excluding hedging impacts, asset write-downs and other items, adjusted earnings were up at $1.65 from $1.55. Revenue climbed 30% to $1.17 billion as higher oil revenue offset declines in natural-gas and natural-gas liquids sales.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently projected earnings of $1.14 on revenue of $1.14 billion.

Average sales volumes from continuing operations jumped 18% to 255,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. However, average crude prices were down 2% and natural-gas prices were off by 10% in the U.S.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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