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El Paso Q4 Profit Soars - Update

El Paso Corp. (EP) reported Monday a sharp increase in fourth-quarter profit, helped by higher oil production and increase in realized price. Adjusted earnings grew 40 percent, but missed analysts' expectations.

Oil production climbed 50 percent, while volumes were higher by 11 percent from the prior year. For the period oil and condensate prices grew significantly from the prior. The production figures include contribution from Four Star Oil and Gas Company in which El Paso has 48.8 percent interest.

In the fourth quarter, net income attributable to stockholders significantly increased to $185 million or $0.24 per share from $62 million or $0.09 per share a year earlier.

Adjusted for impacts of E&P financial derivatives and other items, quarterly adjusted earnings per share were $0.28, a 40 percent increase from $0.20 in the prior-year quarter. On average, 11 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings per share of $0.29 for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude one-time items.

The Exploration and Production segment reported $92 million of EBIT, a key earnings measure, compared with a loss of $27 million in the same quarter last year. The company attributed the increase mainly to an 87 percent increase in oil and condensate physical sales and a $10 million mark-to-market gain.

El Paso Pipeline Partners L.P. (EPB) also posted higher fourth-quarter net income attributable to the company of $126 million, up from prior year's $102 million, with net income attributable to limited partners rising to $105 million from $89 million a year ago.

However, quarterly earnings per common unit dropped slightly to $0.51 from $0.53 in the 2010 period. On average, 14 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings per share of $0.60 for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Operating revenues totaled $362 million compared with $352 million in the earlier year quarter, while 8 analysts estimated revenues of $385.20 million for the quarter.

The partnership's quarterly results reflect the benefits of acquisitions and completed expansions, with the acquisition activity including the remaining 49 percent interests in both SLNG and Elba Express in November 2010; the purchase of an aggregate 55 percent additional interest in SNG in November 2010 and March and June 2011, and an additional 28 percent interest purchase in CIG in June 2011.

EP is currently trading at $27.19, up 0.11 percent on the NYSE.

EPB trades down 0.89 percent at $37.67.

by RTT Staff Writer

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