(Adds details on results, analysts estimates, share price)
Feb 22 (Reuters) - Chesapeake Energy Corp's fourth-quarter profit topped analysts estimates, helped by higher production and prices of oil and natural gas, sending the company's shares up about 6.5 percent premarket on Thursday.
The company's net income available to shareholders was $309 million, or 33 cents per share, in the quarter to Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $740 million, or 83 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, it earned 30 cents per share, beating analysts average estimate of 24 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Oklahoma-based Chesapeake said daily production averaged about 593,200 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in the quarter, marginally higher than its forecast earlier this month and up 3.3 percent from the year-ago quarter.
The company which operates in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, the Utica Shale in Ohio and the Anadarko Basin in northwestern Oklahoma among others said average sales price rose 20.2 percent to $24.41 per barrel of oil equivalent (boe).
In 2018, the company expects production to increase 1 percent to 5 percent, adjusted for asset sales, and a decrease in capital expenditures, Chief Executive Doug Lawler said.
Chesapeake is selling assets worth $2 billion to $3 billion to shore up its balance sheet, which is saddled with $9.90 billion in debt.
The company has already cut jobs and chopped expenses to lower its debt load, and working towards reducing costs further, while using new technology to improve production. (Reporting by Anirban Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)