(Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, Canada's No.1 independent oil producer, reported a 58 percent fall in fourth-quarter profit after booking a foreign exchange-related loss but the company raised its quarterly dividend.
The company raised its quarterly dividend for 2013 by 19 percent to 12.5 Canadian cents per share.
Net income fell to C$352 million ($341 million), or 32 Canadian cents per share, from C$832 million, or 76 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.
The company booked an unrealized foreign exchange loss of C$254 million, mainly related to its U.S. dollar-denominated debt. The company had a gain of C$117 million on foreign exchange in the year earlier quarter.
Revenue fell 12 percent to C$3.70 billion.
On an adjusted basis, earnings were C$359 million, or 33 Canadian cents per share. Analysts on average had expected earnings of 39 Canadian cents per share on revenue of C$3.59 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) output rose 6 percent to 469,964 barrels per day (bbl/d) in the fourth quarter on increased drilling and a 19 percent rise in thermal production.
Total production of oil and gas was flat at 658,973 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd).
Natural gas production dropped 11 percent to 1,134 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) as the company focused on high-return crude oil drilling.
Canadian Natural's cash flow, a key measure of its ability to pay for new projects and drilling, fell 28 percent to C$1.55 billion.
The Calgary-based company, which has been cutting natural gas production and focusing on high-return crude oil drilling, raised its first-quarter forecast for crude oil and NGLs output to between 471,000 and 495,000 bbl/d on an average.
It produced 395,461 bbl/d of crude oil and NGLs in the first quarter last year.
The company said it expected first-quarter natural gas output to average between 1,130 MMCf/d and 1,150 MMcf/d before royalties, down from its first-quarter output of 1,302 MMCf/d, last year.
The company named Corey Bieber, currently a vice president, as Chief Financial Officer in place of Douglas Proll. Proll will now become an executive vice president.
Canadian Natural shares closed at C$31.16 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
($1 = 1.0309 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Maneesha Tiwari in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)