Apache Raises North America Output Forecast, Swings To Profit


HOUSTON, May 4 (Reuters) - Oil and gas producer Apache Corp swung to a first-quarter profit on higher oil prices and one-time property sales, it said on Thursday, but shares fell as adjusted results disappointed Wall Street.

Earnings were boosted by the sale of noncore properties during the quarter. Excluding one-time items, earnings were 8 cents a share, below Wall Street estimates for 14 cents a share. The sales provided an aftertax gain of $222 million, or 58 cents a share.

Apache shares were down 4.4 percent at $46.64 after earlier touching a 52-week low of $46.09.

The Houston-based oil and gas producer raised its estimate for production from North America and lowered its cost forecast for the year.

The improved production outlook reflected optimism pervading the U.S. shale oil industry from stabilized crude prices and technology improvements that help companies pump more for less.

Apache raised its forecast for North American production to 256,000 to 264,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) from 252,000 to 263,000 boepd.

The company also lowered its forecast for lease operating expenses to $8.25 to $8.75 boepd from $8.50 to $9.00 boepd.

Oil prices began to rise late last year after a two-year slump and have now stabilized at above $50 per barrel, as an OPEC-led production cut and rebounding demand slowly erode a global glut.

Globally traded Brent averaged $54.69 per barrel in the first three months of the year, up 55 percent from a year earlier.

Apache said it realized $51.20 per barrel of oil in the quarter, up from $31.62 a year earlier. The company also said it had begun to ship natural gas from a West Texas discovery two months earlier than originally forecast.

Net income attributable to Apache's common shareholders was $213 million, or 56 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $372 million, or 98 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company's production fell 11 percent to 481,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd).

(Reporting by Swetha Gopinath in Bengaluru and Gary McWilliams in Houston; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Jeffrey Benkoe)


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