(New throughout, adds details and comments from senior portfolio manager and Hess)
Dec 14 (Reuters) - Elliott Management Corp is readying for a new fight with Hess Corp to help remedy what the activist hedge fund called on Thursday "continuing underperformance" by the U.S. oil and gas producer.
This would be the second time the New York-based investment firm, which owned 6.6 percent of Hess as of Sept. 30 according to Thomson Reuters data, has targeted the company. Elliott conducted an activist campaign against it in 2013.
"As long-term shareholders in Hess, we are frustrated by the company's continuing underperformance," John Pike, senior portfolio manager at Elliott, said in a statement.
"Shareholders are getting impatient, because the changes needed to remedy Hess's severe undervaluation are substantial and need to be announced without delay."
U.S. energy stocks have broadly underperformed other sectors this year, as oil prices initially failed to achieve their 2017 forecasts, dampening investor appetite. Crude has rallied around 40 percent since June; company share prices have been slower to recover.
Hess, which has a market value of $13.6 billion, is down 31.5 percent year-to-date, according to Thomson Reuters data.
"The Hess board unanimously and unequivocally supports the company's current strategy and John Hess as CEO," Hess said in a statement. It said Hess and the management team have done an "excellent job" in challenging times.
"The company is well positioned to deliver industry-leading returns and value to shareholders for many years to come."
Elliott's challenge could include unseating John Hess, who for more than two decades has run the company founded by his father in 1933, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper, citing people familiar with the matter, said Elliott was also expected to call for the sale of all or part of the company, as well as a cut in the firm's dividend, with the capital instead used to repurchase Hess stock.
This year, Hess sold its interests in Norway and offshore Equatorial Guinea, as part of an asset sale program which stemmed from Elliott's first activism campaign in 2013. That campaign led to Hess placing three directors backed by Elliott on the board and stripping John Hess of his role of chairman.
Hess's U.S. operations are centered on the Bakken shale field in North Dakota. It also has projects in Malaysia and Thailand and is working with Exxon Mobil Corp and Chinese oil firm CNOOC to develop part of the Liza oilfield off the coast of Guyana, the first phase of which requires $4.4 billion of investment. (Reporting by David French and Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York and Ernest Scheyder in Houston; Additional reporting by Karina Dsouza in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio)