Encana Corp., which has been grappling with a slump in natural-gas prices, posted a fourth-quarter loss that was much smaller than its year-earlier loss and better than analyst expectations.
The Calgary, Alberta-based natural-gas focused company said it lost $80 million in its latest quarter, compared with a loss of $476 million a year earlier.
Operating earnings, which exclude amounts related to hedging and impairments, improved to $296 million, or 40 cents a share, from $232 million, or 31 cents, a year earlier.
The Thomson Reuters mean estimate was for a profit of 33 cents a share.
Cash flow dipped 18% to $809 million, or $1.10 a share.
Natural gas production averaged 2.95 billion cubic feet a day, down 15% from a year earlier, while liquids production jumped 51% to 36,200 barrels a day.
Encana said it's budgeting about 80% of its 2013 operating budget to light oil and liquids-rich natural gas plays.
Capital spending for 2013 is projected at $3.0 billion to $3.2 billion and cash flow at $2.3 billion to $2.5 billion. It's targeting net divestitures in the range $500 million to $1.0 billion.
Encana said it expects oil and natural gas liquids production this year to be between 50,000 and 60,000 barrels a day, with annual natural gas production around 2.8 billion to 3.0 billion cubic feet a day.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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