WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Oil and natural gas company Murphy Oil Corp. (MUR) said Wednesday after the markets closed that its third quarter net profit fell 44% from last year, hurt mainly lower North American natural gas prices, weaker U.S. retail marketing margins and unfavorable foreign exchange.
Third quarter income from the company's exploration and production segment fell 19% to $221.1 million from $273.4 million a year ago. The company attributed the decline to lower sales prices for North American natural gas, higher depreciation expense related to oil and natural gas volumes sold, and lower income tax benefits.
The company's worldwide production rose to 181,558 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the third quarter from 174,801 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the prior year quarter.
Crude oil, condensate and gas liquids production for the quarter rose to 105,796 barrels per day from 96,437 barrels per day a year earlier.
Natural gas sales volumes averaged 454 million cubic feet per day in the third quarter, down from 470 million cubic feet per day in the year-ago quarter.
The average sales price for the company's crude oil, condensate and gas liquids was $96.09 per barrel in the third quarter, up from $95.95 per barrel last year. Natural gas sales prices in North America averaged $2.61 per thousand cubic feet in the third quarter, down significantly from the $4.20 per MCF realized during the third quarter of last year.
The company's refining and marketing operations generated income from continuing operations of $42.8 million in the third quarter, a decrease of 38% from a year ago.
The El Dorado, Arkansas-based company reported net income for the third quarter of $226.7 million or $1.16 per share, compared to $406.1 million or $2.09 per share for the year-ago quarter.
During the third quarter, the company agreed to sell its exploration and production operations in the United Kingdom. The deal is expected to be completed near year-end 2012. The results of those operations were accounted as discontinued operations.
Income from continuing operations in the third quarter was $228.9 million or $1.17 per share, compared to $347.3 million or $1.79 per share in the prior year quarter.
On average, 13 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn $1.19 per share for the third quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.
Revenue for the third quarter declined 1.4% to $7.12 billion from $7.22 billion in the same quarter last year. Two analysts had a consensus revenue estimate of $7.08 billion for the third quarter.
In June, Murphy Oil appointed Steve Cossé as its President and Chief Executive Officer to succeed David Wood who retired after a 17-year career at the company. Cossé previously served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the company.
Earlier this month, the company said it will pay a special dividend of $2.50 per share on December 3 and that its board has authorized a share buyback program of up to $1 billion.
Looking forward, the company said it expects fourth quarter earnings from continuing operations to be in the range of $1.10 to $1.70 per share. Analysts currently expect the company to earn $1.47 per share for the fourth quarter.
The company also said it expects fourth quarter production to average 207,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, but that it expects sales volumes of oil and natural gas for the quarter to average 206,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Murphy Oil shares, which have traded in a range of $43.29 to $65.60 over the past year, closed Wednesday's regular trading session at $60.00, up 19 cents.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX
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