Hess Beats Estimates as Higher Oil Output Trumps Lower Price

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Hess Corp., which sold refineries and gasoline stations to focus on oil production, beat analysts’ earnings estimates as higher output made up for lower prices.

Hess reported a first-quarter loss of 98 cents a share excluding some items, the New York-based company said Wednesday in a statement, narrower than the $1.06 average of 20 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The shares were up as much as 1.3 percent in pre-market trading in New York.

The company pumped more oil and natural gas to make up for prices that fell by more than half from last year. Oil and gas production increased to 361,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day from 318,000 barrels a year ago, the company said.

“Overall, these were pretty good results,” Brian Youngberg, a St. Louis-based analyst with Edward D. Jones & Co., said in a telephone interview. “They are one of many companies that’s going to be losing money until oil moves higher, but in the meantime they can rely on their cash and their balance sheet.” Youngberg rates the shares at hold and owns none.

Hess was up 25 cents to $77 at 8:42 a.m. in pre-market trading.

“We delivered strong operating results for the quarter and captured significant cost savings for the year, with additional reductions being pursued,” Chief Executive Officer John Hess said in the statement.

Hess said it will cut 2015 capital spending 6.4 percent to $4.4 billion. The net loss was $389 million, or $1.37 a share, compared with profit of $386 million, or $1.20, a year ago.

Lower oil prices reduced adjusted net income by about $700 million, Hess said. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark crude, fell 0.5 percent to $56.79 a barrel at 8:28 a.m. in New York. Oil is down about 47 percent since its June high.

(An earlier version of this story corrected the net loss.)

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