ConocoPhillips joins Big Oil’s parade of bumper profits but shares fall

News wire — ConocoPhillips said its profit more than doubled to $18.7 billion in 2022, the highest since the oil company spun off its refining business in 2012, benefiting as crude prices climbed 10.5% in 2022.

Still, its shares fell more than 5% to $111.79 on weaker oil prices on the day and a fourth-quarter profit miss.

“Headline numbers across this morning’s report are mixed,” said Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co analyst Jeoffrey Lambujon, citing higher-than-expected project spending and a weaker production outlook for the year.

Oil demand surged on the economic rebound after the Covid-19 pandemic and shortages following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. ConocoPhillips collected $71.05 a barrel for its oil and gas in the fourth quarter, up from $65.56 per boe in the same quarter of 2021.

Oil producers Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp also enjoyed hefty profits on the price jumps, sparking complaints from government officials and calls to levy windfall profit taxes on the industry.

ConocoPhillips plans to return $11 billion to shareholders in 2023, less than the $15 billion it returned last year and below what analysts had expected.

ConocoPhillips expects project spending of between $10.7 billion and $11.3 billion this year, including costs associated with its Willow oil and gas drilling project in Alaska, which received support on Wednesday from President Joe Biden’s administration. A final decision is expected in March.

The company expects the project to cost between $7 billion and $7.5 billion, up from a previous estimate of $6 billion, due to inflationary pressures and changes in scope.

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It also anticipates it will invest about $2 billion in Sempra’s Port Arthur LNG facility, of which ConocoPhillips has a 30% stake. More than half of the investment will be this year.

Production was 1.758 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) for the fourth quarter, an increase of 150,000 boed from a year ago. The company said well performance across all basins was slightly above expectations, including in the Permian.

“ConocoPhillips finished 2022 on a solid note with production volumes exceeding consensus forecasts by 1.5%,” said Third Bridge analyst Peter McNally.

First quarter production is expected between 1.72 million and 1.76 million boepd, with full-year output of between 1.76 million to 1.8 million boepd, representing growth of 1% to 4%.

On an adjusted basis, the company posted quarterly profit of $2.71 per share, missing expectations of $2.81, according to Refinitiv data.

Reporting by Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru and Liz Hampton in Denver; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and David Gregorio – Reuters

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