Oil and gas producer Noble's 1Q profit down 1 pct

Oil and gas producer Noble Energy's 1Q profit slips 1 pct as oil prices drop, costs rise

Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) -- Noble Energy Inc. said Thursday its first-quarter net income edged down about 1 percent, hurt by a drop in oil prices and higher costs.

The oil and gas producer earned $261 million, or $1.45 per share, down from $263 million, or $1.47 per share, in the same quarter the year before. Excluding one-time items, per-share profit dropped to $1.48 from $1.65.

Revenue rose 5 percent, to $1.14 billion from $1.09 billion, but a 15 percent increase in costs, to $718 million, dragged on profit.

Still, results beat Wall Street predictions. Analysts, on average, expected a profit of $1.24 per share on $1.08 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

Noble, which is based in Houston, operates in the U.S., in the Gulf of Mexico, and off the coasts of Equatorial Guinea and Israel.

Sales volumes rose 9 percent to an average of 245,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, not counting property the company has sold. Oil prices fell about 5 percent both in the U.S. and overseas, while U.S. natural gas prices rose about 26 percent.

The company still expects to produce about 270,000 to 282,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day this year.

Noble shares rose $2.75, or 2.4 percent, to $115.37 in morning trading. The stock is up about 20 percent over the past 12 months.

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