ConocoPhillips Posts Bigger Loss, Slashes Dividend


ConocoPhillips further cut its capital budget for 2016 and slashed its quarterly dividend as a relentless fall in crude oil prices takes a toll on the largest U.S. independent oil and gas company.

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Shares of ConocoPhillips, which also reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss, were down 4 percent at $37 in light premarket trading.

Global crude oil prices have dropped about 70 percent from their 2014 high of over $100 barrel, eroding profitability at nearly all oil producers.

Exxon Mobil Corp, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, reported its smallest quarterly profit in more than a decade on Tuesday.

With oil prices now hovering at about $30 barrel, producers are slashing investments in new wells and projects, triggering another large wave of spending cuts.

ConocoPhillips on Thursday lowered its 2016 capital expenditure target by 17 percent to $6.4 billion, and its operating cost forecast by 9 percent to $7 billion.

The cut comes less than two months after the company outlined its spending plans for the year.

ConocoPhillips also slashed its quarterly dividend to 25 cents per share from 74 cents per share.

The company's net loss widened to $3.5 billion, or $2.78 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec.31, from $39 million, or 3 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding impairment and other items, loss was 90 cents per share, bigger than the average analyst estimate of 65 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Anna Driver and Swetha Gopinath; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)