By Tess Stynes
ConocoPhillips' (>> ConocoPhillips) third-quarter earnings fell 31% during the company's second reporting period as a standalone oil and gas producer amid lower sales and production.
ConocoPhillips is in the midst of a three-year repositioning aimed at improving its balance sheet and making itself more attractive to investors. That plan includes the sale of $15 billion to $20 billion in assets, large-scale share buybacks and the spinoff of its refining arm as Phillips 66 (>> Phillips 66) in May.
Like most other producers, Conoco is turning away from natural gas and toward oil and liquids production in the face of weak natural-gas prices. The company has been increasing production in unconventional oil-rich shale plays such as the Bakken and Eagle Ford.
The latest quarter was also hurt by lower average realized prices for oil and natural gas, which fell 3.7% and 16%, respectively.
ConocoPhillips reported a profit of $1.8 billion, or $1.46 a share, down from $2.62 billion, or $1.91 a share, a year earlier. Excluding items such as asset sale gains, pension settlement expenses and U.K. tax-law-change impacts, adjusted earnings from continuing operations were up at $1.44 from $1.40. The year-earlier period included contributions from discontinued operations of about $1.14 billion.
Sales and other operating revenue decreased 12% to $14.52 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently projected earnings of $1.19 on revenue of $11.12 billion.
The company reported average production of about 1.525 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, down from 1.538 billion barrels a day a year earlier amid the company's asset sales.
Phillips 66 is set to release its third-quarter earnings report Oct. 31.
Shares closed Wednesday at $55.95 and were inactive premarket. The stock is up 3.8% in the past 12 months, trailing the broader market.
Write to Tess Stynes at firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires