Hess Corp. swung to a loss in the fourth quarter as dramatically lower gas prices dragged down earnings despite increased production.
Earlier this month, Hess said that it would reduce its 2015 budget, joining a number of energy producers that have reduced spending plans amid a sharp decline in oil prices. In the most recently ended quarter, the average crude-oil selling price, including the effect of hedging, fell 24% from a year earlier.
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"We are taking prudent steps in 2015 to reduce our spending and maintain our financial flexibility," said Chief Executive John Hess.
In recent months, Hess has sold off billions of dollars in assets to raise cash and narrow its focus, which now includes a few large oil-and-gas projects, including its Bakken programs in North Dakota. In the fourth quarter, oil and gas production in the Bakken increased 50%.
Overall, Hess reported a loss of $8 million, or three cents a share, compared with a profit of $1.93 billion, or $5.76 a share, a year earlier Excluding divestiture impacts and other items, adjusted earnings fell to 18 cents a share from 96 cents a year earlier.
Revenue fell 19% to $2.53 billion.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a per-share profit of 20 cents and revenue of $2.14 billion.
Hess reported that average daily oil-and-gas production increased 18% to 362,000 barrels. For this year, the company expects production--excluding Libya, which continues to be affected by civil unrest--to increase 10% to 13% from 2014. This will be driven by a full year of production from the Tubular Bells field in the Gulf of Mexico, following first production in late 2014.
Shares of Hess have fallen about 7% over the past 12 months through Tuesday's close.