Shale companies sink on investor disappointment, hedging losses

Aug 1 (Reuters) - Shares of U.S. oil producers dropped sharply on Wednesday after several companies posted weaker-than-expected results, in part due to hedging costs, disappointing investors expecting strong profits on rising crude prices.

Devon Energy shares were down 6.7 percent and Anadarko Petroleum lost 6 percent after both reported per-share results that fell short of expectations.

U.S. shale production has risen dramatically in the last two years, buoying overall U.S. oil output to about 11 million barrels a day, an all-time record.

But the average price for some companies' oil sales has fallen short of expectations, curtailing profits even as U.S. crude futures rose to more than $70 a barrel in the second quarter, the highest since 2014.

Anadarko, in its release, said it lost $298 million in pretax income due to commodity-related hedges. Devon's losses were related to both commodity derivatives sales and foreign exchange losses.

Notably, Pioneer Natural Resources, a prominent shale producer, said late Monday in an 8-K regulatory filing that its average price for oil sales - including the cost of hedging production - was $52.62 a barrel.

Analysts at Robert W. Baird on Tuesday had forecast an average of $56.49 a barrel, adding that they think Pioneer's filing "got the 'bad news' out of the way." Pioneer reports results next week; its shares were down 1 percent on Wednesday.

Also hit hard on Wednesday were shares of Chesapeake Energy , after the company said lower-than-expected natural gas prices hurt results in the most recent quarter. Its shares were down 6.8 percent on Wednesday.

The SPDRs Energy Select Sector exchange-traded fund was down 1.3 percent on Wednesday, trailing the overall market. (Reporting By David Gaffen and Gary McWilliams; editing by Jonathan Oatis)