Hess Earnings Better Than Expected on Sharp Cost Cutting

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Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES) reported third-quarter 2016 results before markets opened Wednesday morning. The oil and gas producer posted an adjusted diluted net loss per share of $1.12 on revenues of $1.2 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported a loss per share of $1.03 on revenues of $1.69 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for a net loss of $1.24 and $1.18 billion in revenues.

Third-quarter 2016 after-tax results reflect lower production and realized selling prices compared with the third quarter of 2015, as well as lower operating costs and depreciation, depletion and amortization expenses. Total costs and expenses fell by nearly $400 million year over year to $1.83 billion.

Hess’s average realized crude oil selling price was $41.50 per barrel in the third quarter of 2016, down 9% from $45.66 per barrel in the year-ago quarter, including the effect of hedging. The average realized natural gas liquids selling price in the third quarter of 2016 was $9.23 per barrel compared to $7.17 per barrel in the prior-year quarter, while the average realized natural gas selling price was $3.20 per thousand cubic feet, down from $4.02 in the third quarter of 2015.

CEO John Hess said:

Our company continues to take steps to maintain a strong balance sheet and materially reduce our spending. We also are investing in growth projects including the world-class Liza oil discovery in Guyana that we believe will create significant value for our shareholders. Based on the positive results of the Liza-3 well, we now expect Liza to be at the upper end of the previously announced estimated recoverable resources range of 800 million to 1.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

Exploration and production capital and exploratory expenditures totaled $435 million in the third quarter of 2016, down 49% from $849 million in the prior-year quarter reflecting reduced activities in response to the weak commodity price environment. Bakken Midstream capital expenditures totaled $88 million in the third quarter of both 2016 and 2015.

In October, Hess expects to purchase and redeem notes for $625 million to complete the debt refinancing. Pro forma for the notes to be purchased or redeemed in October and excluding the Bakken Midstream, debt amounted to $61 billion at September 30, 2016. The company’s pro forma debt to capitalization ratio was 24.5%.

Hess did not provide guidance, but consensus estimates call for a net loss per share of $1.07 in the fourth quarter on revenues of $1.3 billion. For the full year, analysts are looking for a net loss of $5.16 per share and $4.74 billion in revenues.

Shares traded down about 3% shortly before noon Wednesday, at $49.35 in a 52-week range of $32.41 to $64.08. The 12-month price target on the stock is $64.74.