Natural gas producer,
Ultra Petroleum Corporation
) reported fourth-quarter 2013 earnings per share of 42 cents,
surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 37 cents. A
substantial decline in operating costs and an increase in price
realizations led to the beat.
However, earnings decreased from the prior-year quarter level of
51 cents amid a drop in production volumes.
Following the earnings announcement, shares of the company closed
down 3.5% at $24.12 on the NYSE trade yesterday.
Total operating revenue, at $225.2 million, marginally missed the
Zacks Consensus Estimate of $226.0 million but was up from $217.2
million in fourth quarter 2012. An increase in sales along with
higher realized prices led to the year-over-year improvement.
For 2013, Ultra Petroleum reported adjusted earnings of $1.64 per
share, above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.61 but
significantly lower than the year earlier level of $2.15.
However, operating revenues of $933.4 million improved 15.2% year
Production during the reported quarter was down 5.4% year over
year to 56.8 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe) from 60.1 Bcfe.
Natural gas volumes - accounting for approximately 96.5% of the
total - were down 6.1% at 54.8 Bcf. However, oil production
increased 17.8% year over year to 331,263 barrels.
Ultra Petroleum's average realized price on natural gas
(excluding commodity derivatives' realized gain or loss)
increased 7.2% to $3.57 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf). The
average oil price for the reported quarter reached $88.66 per
barrel, 8.8% above the fourth-quarter 2012 figure of $81.48 per
Costs, Expenses & Margins
Lease operating expenses declined 12.8% from the prior-year
quarter to $15.6 million. Ultra Petroleum reported all-in costs
of $2.94 per Mcfe, up 1.7% from the comparable quarter last
Total operating expenses for the quarter came in at $141.8
million, a whopping 78% decrease from $643.2 million in the
Ultra Petroleum's competitive cost structure enabled it to
achieve a 58% adjusted operating cash flow margin and a 29%
adjusted net income margin in fourth quarter 2013.
As of Dec 31, 2013, the company had cash and cash equivalents
of $10.7 million and long-term debt of $2.5 billion.
ATHLON ENERGY (ATHL): Free Stock Analysis
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ULTRA PETRO CP (UPL): Free Stock Analysis
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In a separate release, Ultra Petroleum reported proved natural
gas and crude oil reserves of 3.61 trillion cubic feet equivalent
(Tcfe) as of Dec 31, 2013. This represents an increase of about
18% from the 2012 reserves of 3.1 Tcfe.
Ultra Petroleum closed the Uinta Basin oil properties deal on Dec
12, 2013 for $649.8 million. Ultra Petroleum expects these assets
to be a key contributor to the company projected 40% EBITDA and
cash flow growth in 2014.
Ultra Petroleum expects production of 56-58 Bcfe for the first
quarter and 243-253 Bcfe for full-year 2014. The company has a
$560.0 million capital spending plan for 2014.
Ultra Petroleum currently retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold),
implying that it is expected to perform in line with the broader
U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.
Meanwhile, one can consider better-ranked players from the
industry such as
Matador Resources Company
Range Resources Corporation
Athlon Energy Inc.
). All these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).