ConocoPhillips 3Q profit falls 30 percent

HOUSTON -- ConocoPhillips said Thursday that net income fell 30 percent in the third quarter as it sold assets and oil and natural gas prices fell.

Still, the oil and gas company's earnings were far better than Wall Street estimates, and its stock price rose almost 2 percent in morning trading.

Houston-based ConocoPhillips made $1.8 billion, or $1.46 per share, compared with $2.6 billion, or $1.91 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue was down 9.6 percent to $15.1 billion.

Excluding one-time asset sales and tax law changes in the United Kingdom, ConocoPhillips made $1.44 per share for the quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.19 per share on revenue of $9.98 billion.

Chairman and CEO Ryan Lance said his company performed well in its first quarter as an exploration and production company. ConocoPhillips spun off its downstream business, which includes refineries and pipelines, earlier this year. It is now called Phillips 66.

"Our production was on target, our growth projects and drilling programs are on track," Lance said in a statement.

During the first nine months of the year, the company got $2.1 billion from asset sales, and it remains on track to get $8 billion to $10 billion by the end of next year, Lance said. ConocoPhillips expects annual production and margin growth of 3 to 5 percent, said Lance, who took over the company from Jim Mulva in the second quarter.

The company said realized crude oil prices fell 3.6 percent to $102.72 per barrel, compared with the third quarter of 2011. Natural gas prices dropped 16 percent to $4.56 per thousand cubic feet. Prices for other liquid hydrocarbons such as natural gas liquids fell during the quarter as well.

ConocoPhillips has been aggressively selling refineries, pipelines and other assets over the past few years to remake itself as an independent oil and gas producer.

During the third quarter, overall oil production declined by 0.8 percent.

ConocoPhillips shares rose $1.23, or 2.2 percent, to $57.18 in Thursday morning trading.