ConocoPhillips reports steep decline in 1Q earnings, saved by UK tax benefit

ConocoPhillips reported first-quarter earnings of $272 million, down from $2.1 billion in first-quarter 2014.

Excluding special items, first-quarter adjusted earnings were a net loss of $222 million, down from $2.3 billion in first-quarter 2014. Special items for the current quarter related to a deferred tax benefit from a change in UK tax law, partially offset by restructuring costs across the company (OGJ Online, Dec. 3, 2014).

Operating costs for the quarter were $2.1 billion, compared with $2.3 billion in first-quarter 2014, representing a 7% year-over-year reduction in operating costs, or a 12% reduction when adjusted for restructuring charges of $104 million pretax.

Cash provided by continuing operating activities was $1.87 billion for the quarter. Excluding a $250 million increase in working capital, ConocoPhillips generated $2.1 billion in cash from operations. The company also funded $3.3 billion in capital expenditures and investments and paid dividends of $900 million.

The company is on track for $11.5 billion in capital expenditures and investments in 2015 (OGJ Online, Jan. 29, 2015). Capital spending is expected to decrease throughout the year as major projects come on line and activity levels continue to ramp down in North American unconventional plays.

ConocoPhillips as of Mar. 31 had $2.7 billion of cash and cash equivalents. The company ended the first quarter with debt of $22.5 billion and a debt-to-capital ratio of 31%.

First-quarter production totaled 1.61 million boe/d, representing 5% year-over-year production growth from continuing operations, adjusted for Libya, downtime, and dispositions.

The company is on track to meet its previously stated target of 2-3% production growth in 2015 from continuing operations, excluding Libya. Second-quarter production is expected to total 1.56-1.6 million boe/d, also excluding Libya.

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