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XTO Energy Stock Jumps On Strong Quarter

XTO Energy reports a strong first quarter, increasing production growth forecasts and sending its stock climbing 12% in afternoon trading.
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Shares of

XTO Energy


got a sharp boost Wednesday from earnings that exceeded expectations on increased production during the first quarter, as well as encouraging oil-inventory data from the Energy Department.

XTO stock was trading recently up 12% to $42.50 in afternoon trading Wednesday, on heavy volume.

Excluding items, XTO said adjusted earnings for the quarter came in at $531 million, or 91 cents per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were looking for EPS of 77 cents in the quarter.

One-time items in the just-ended period include $79 million in write-downs on the value of XTO's oil and gas properties. Including that charge, XTO earned $486 million, or 83 cents a share, compared with $465 million, or 92 cents a share a year earlier. The drop in EPS resulted from a larger number of shares outstanding in 2009.

Revenue, meanwhile, jumped 29% to $2.16 billion, up from $1.67 billion in the prior-year period and higher than analysts' targets of $2.12 billion.

The Fort Worth, Texas, oil and gas producer also hiked its growth forecasts for the year, saying it believes gas production in 2009 will increase 16% over 2009.

The company turned in the surprising results even as prices declined -- the average gas price in the first quarter fell 6% -- but the company offset those pressures with production volumes that ratcheted higher compared with the year-ago period. Oil drilling in shales was particularly strong, the company said.

Separately, data released by the Energy Department Wednesday indicated that for the week ended May 1, crude inventories rose by 600,000 barrels to 375.3 million barrels, well below analysts expectation of a 2.2 million-barrel increase, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information unit of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Optimistic news pushed shares higher throughout the oil-and-gas sector Wednesday, as several companies reported earnings that surpassed expectations, including

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