Conoco posts a five-fold profit leap, raises shareholder returns

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U.S. oil producer ConocoPhillips (COP.N) on Thursday reported a five-fold increase in profit from a year-ago that exceeded Wall Street estimates on high prices and acquisitions.

Conoco pledged to bump up shareholder returns by 25% to $10 billion this year, but gave a weaker-than-expected outlook for full-year production despite raising capital spending.

The largest U.S. oil independent is benefiting from selling its oil and gas at multi-year-high prices, from acquisitions that boosted its oil and gas production and from asset sales.

Conoco outshone oil majors like Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), BP (BP.L) and TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) in reporting record earnings from the commodity price volatility stoked by the war in Ukraine.

Shares were up 2% in premarket U.S. trading at $106 even as analysts raised concerns about the increase in the year’s capital spending budget. Results “will be viewed as fairly neutral,” RBC Capital Markets analysts Scott Hanold and Davis Petros said in a note.

The Houston-based company’s adjusted earnings leapt to $4.29 billion, or $3.27 per share in the quarter through March 31, from $902 million, or 69 cents per share a year earlier, beating Wall Street estimates of $3.03 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

It sold its oil and gas for $76.99 per barrel, 70% higher than in the first quarter of 2021, reflecting benchmark crude’s jump above $100 per barrel this year on rising demand and supply worries over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Conoco has a strong presence across conventional and unconventional plays in 16 countries, with big operations in the U.S. Eagle Ford shale, Permian Basin and Bakken shale.

Conoco’s total output rose about 15% in the quarter to 1.75 million barrels of oil and gas from a year earlier on a large acquisition of Shell Plc’s shale holdings last year.

Excluding Shell’s acquired assets, production fell in the quarter. The company also expects a sequential decrease in the second quarter, with output between 1.67-1.73 million barrels per day, reflecting seasonal turnarounds planned in Europe and Canada, as well as adverse weather in the Bakken.

Tudor, Pickering, Holt analyst Jeoffrey Lambujon said in a report that the results were “noisy” with a weaker-than-expected outlook for production and higher capital spending offset by the addition to shareholder returns.

Conoco raised its capital expenditure for 2022 to $7.8 billion from previous guidance of $7.2 billion.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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