Noble Energy 1Q Net Down 0.8% on Higher Costs

Noble Energy Inc.'s first-quarter earnings fell 0.8% as the oil-and-gas explorer's higher expenses counterbalanced stronger revenue from oil and condensates, as well as natural gas.

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 late last year said it would bump up capital spending by 11% in 2013 to $3.9 billion, and said its oil and gas output would grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 17%. About 60% of the capital expenditures were allocated for U.S. onshore projects, while 10% of the capital budget was targeted for its operations in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Noble Energy reported a profit of $261 million, or $1.45 a share, down from $263 million, or $1.47 a share, a year earlier. Excluding hedging impacts and other items, earnings were down at $1.48 from $1.65.

Revenue rose 5.1% to $1.14 billion amid higher oil and natural-gas revenue.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently projected earnings of $1.24 on revenue of $1.08 billion.

Average sales volumes from continuing operations rose to 245,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, from 236,000 Boe/d. Average crude and condensate realized prices were down 8.2% and natural-gas realized prices rose 20%.

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


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