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ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, reported first-quarter profit that exceeded estimates amid rising output in Texas and North Dakota.

Excluding one-time items, per-share profit of $1.81 was 26 cents more than the $1.55 average of 18 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Net income dropped to $2.12 billion, or $1.71 a share, from $2.14 billion, or $1.73, a year earlier, Houston-based ConocoPhillips said today in a statement.

The global explorer, which spun off its refining operations two years ago, has sold assets from Algeria to Kazakhstan as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance seeks higher and more stable returns in North America. Production in Texas’s Eagle Ford and North Dakota’s Bakken shale formations rose 41 percent in the latest quarter.

“They’re offsetting assets sold and some natural declines with production from shale,” Brian Youngberg, an analyst with Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis, said in a telephone interview today. “Their strategy to shift their domestic focus to the Eagle Ford and Bakken is working.”

ConocoPhillips isn’t planning another major divestiture program, Lance told analysts last month.

Brent crude futures, a global benchmark, declined 4 percent from a year earlier to average $108 a barrel in the first quarter. Gas futures traded in New York averaged $4.72 per million British thermal units in the quarter, a 36 percent rise from a year earlier.

The company, which has 12 buy, 12 hold and two sell recommendations from analysts, rose 1 percent to $75.03 at the close of New York trading.

Download: Earnings

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