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Noble Energy Sales Light

Earnings beat targets, though.

Noble Energy (NBL) - Get Noble Energy, Inc. Report beat third-quarter earnings estimates but came up light on sales.

The Houston-based natural gas driller made $318 million, or $1.75 a share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, up from the year-ago $177 million, or 99 cents a share. Revenue rose to $741 million from $632 million a year earlier.

Excluding certain items, latest-quarter earnings were $1.31 a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a $1.24-a-share profit on sales of $772 million.

Average daily production rose 11% from a year ago to 187,664 barrels of oil equivalent.

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"Noble Energy once again reported solid operating and financial results for the quarter, reflecting our strategy of investing in a diversified portfolio of long-term, high-impact programs," CEO Charles Davidson said. "Production increased over the third quarter last year, despite selling the shelf properties. Organic production increases from our three deepwater Gulf of Mexico developments and in Israel, as well as the full integration of United States Exploration, were the drivers behind our increased volumes. For the remainder of the year and continuing into 2007, we are looking forward to the results of significant exploration programs in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and West Africa."