After oil prices dropped following a build-up in U.S. crude oil stockpiles, oil and gas exploration and production company Whiting Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: WLL) was one of those that took it on the chin. It shares were down nearly 10% Wednesday, while competitor Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) was down around 3% and Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (NYSE: COG) more than 7%.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped about 2.5% to $43.07 per barrel Wednesday afternoon, while Brent crude slipped about 3% to $45.94 per barrel. This after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 2.8 million barrels — more than analysts had expected — to 482.8 million barrels last week. That was a 27% rise from the same period a year ago.
The Denver-based company also recently posted an adjusted diluted net loss per share of $0.17 on revenues of $508 million for the third quarter. That compared to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for a net loss of $0.25 per share and $558.92 million in revenues.
Whiting increased production by 37% year-over-year on production of 14.77 million barrels of oil equivalent in the quarter. Some 99% of production came from oil and natural gas liquids. A full 82% of Whiting’s third-quarter production came from the Bakken play.
For the fourth quarter, Whiting forecasts production at 13.9 million to 14.3 million barrels of oil equivalent. Expenses are expected to total $37.55 to $39.65 per barrel, and discounts to the NYMEX price for oil are expected to be in the range of $7 to $8. Gas discounts are expected to be $0.20 to $0.60 per thousand cubic feet.
Total capital spending in the fourth quarter is now estimated to fall below $300 million, compared to $403.4 million in the most recent quarter. Whiting’s goal for the 2016 fiscal year is to balance capex and cash flow at approximately $1 billion.
While it may not be not popular with investors, Whiting has chosen to put a lid on spending and sit on its cash until prices improve, a move that could mean the company will be around to drill another day. Like so many others in the oil patch, Whiting now is waiting and watching for the bottom.
Shares closed down about 9.4% Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $13.50 to $60.97. They were inactive in premarket trading Thursday. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $27.84, which is down nearly a dollar from before the earnings report.