Hess Corp. (HES) turned a profit in the fourth quarter to beat Wall Street estimates, amid turnarounds in its refining and marketing operations.
Elliott Management, which owns a 4% stake in the energy company, has been pressuring Hess this week to make strategic changes. The firm plans on purchasing an addition $800 million in Hess shares and announced on Tuesday five nominations to Hess’ board. Elliott has made it clear that it believes Hess, which said on Monday it is exiting the refining business and selling its East Coast terminal network, should spin off its assets in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale region and sell its gasoline stations.
Hess, however, plans on maintaining its retail operations. Chairman and CEO John Hess said that by selling the terminal network, the company can also focus its efforts on retail, exploration and production.
Fourth-quarter profit was $566 million, or $1.66 a share. Revenue jumped 9.9% to $9.7 billion. Hess reported a loss of $131 million, or 39 cents a share, one year earlier.
Results from the year-ago period were weighed down by a $525 million charge related to the closing of the company’s Hovensa refinery. The latest quarter posted net asset sale gains of $152 million.
Analysts had anticipated per-share earnings of $1.20 on revenue of $9.63 billion.
Hess said its marketing and refining business returned to the black, recording a $159 million profit after a $561 million loss a year earlier.
The exploration and production business saw earnings decline 1.9%, as the company's average selling price for oil, including hedging effects, was down 5.8%.
Increased production from the Bakken oil-shale assets and the resumption of Libyan operations helped average daily production climb 7.9% to 396,000 barrels of oil equivalent.
Shares of Hess were down 59 cents to $67.52 a share in early morning trading Wednesday.