Noble Energy (NBL)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 26, 2012 10:00 am ET


David R. Larson - Vice President of Investor Relations

Charles D. Davidson - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Member of Environment, Health & Safety Committee

David L. Stover - President and Chief Operating Officer


Brian Singer - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

David W. Kistler - Simmons & Company International, Research Division

Arun Jayaram - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Brian Lively - Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. Securities, Inc., Research Division

John Malone - Global Hunter Securities, LLC, Research Division

Irene O. Haas - Wunderlich Securities Inc., Research Division

Charles A. Meade - Johnson Rice & Company, L.L.C., Research Division



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Good morning, and welcome to the Noble Energy's First Quarter 2012 Earnings Call. I would like to turn the conference over to Mr. David Larson. Please go ahead, sir.

David R. Larson

Thanks, Ryan. good morning, everyone. Welcome to Noble Energy's first quarter 2012 earnings call and webcast. On the call today, we have Chuck Davidson, Chairman and CEO; Dave Stover, President and COO; and Ken Fisher, CFO.

This morning, we have issued our earnings release for the first quarter, and it is available on our website. Later today, we expect to be filing our 10-Q with the SEC, and it will also be available on the website.

The agenda for today will begin with Chuck discussing the quarter and highlights of our exploration inventory and the progress that we're making on our Eastern Mediterranean projects. Dave will then give a detailed overview of our operational programs and near-term plans.

[Operator Instructions]

Should you have any questions that we don't get to this morning on the call, please don't hesitate to contact us and we'll do the best we can to answer you. I want to remind everyone that this webcast and conference call does contain projections and forward-looking statements based on our current views and most reasonable expectations. We provide no assurance on these statements, as a number of factors and uncertainties could cause actual results in the future periods to differ materially from what we discuss here today. You should read our full disclosures on forward-looking statements in our latest news release and SEC filings for a discussion of the risk factors that influence our business.

We'll reference certain non-GAAP financial measures here today such as adjusted net income or discretionary cash flow. When we refer to these items, it is because we believe they're good metrics to use in evaluating the company's performance. Be sure to see the reconciliations of these items in our earnings release tables.

With that, let me turn the call over to Chuck.

Charles D. Davidson

Thanks, David, and good morning, everyone. I'm going to start out by reviewing our first quarter results, including a number of significant accomplishments, and then I will move on to discuss some of our forward plans for the remainder of the year.

As you can see from our press release that was issued this morning, this was another strong quarter for Noble Energy. And also, if you've seen our recently-published annual report for 2011, I think you would agree that this quarter's results fits well with our annual reports theme. That theme focuses on the single word, now. In other words, it's all about what we are delivering now. For several years, we've talked about transitioning, transforming and preparing for growth. However, as our report highlights, that preparation work is behind us, and now we are seeing the results. We are now experiencing real growth that is expected to last for many years into the future. And so the future has become now.

Starting with the financials. The adjusted net income for the quarter was $314 million or $1.75 per share diluted, that's an increase of 31% compared to the first quarter of last year. Our only adjustment was for unrealized commodity derivative losses due to strong oil prices.

GAAP net income was $263 million or $1.47 per share diluted. Quarterly revenues were almost $1.2 billion, a 30% increase over the first quarter of last year. Crude oil and liquids represented nearly half of our sales volumes and combined with strong prices accounted for over 80% of our revenue for the first quarter.

Our sales volumes were a record 243,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, up 10,000 barrels of oil equivalent from the fourth quarter of last year and up 13% from the first quarter of 2011. Our sales exceeded quarterly guidance range that we issued earlier this year, and essentially all of the increased production was from crude oil and liquids sales.

The outperformance was driven by exceptional operating performance at Aseng, which completed its first quarter production, as well as continued growth from the horizontal program in the DJ Basin and the deferral of some maintenance downtime in our non-operated Alba facilities from the first to the second quarter. The good news is that, that Alba maintenance has now been completed, and the field is back up.

47% of the total sales volumes for the quarter were liquids. That's up from 40% in the fourth quarter of last year. Our U.S. sales volumes were 131,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day with 45% being liquids. Compared to the first quarter last year, U.S. sales volumes increased 15%, largely driven by increases from Wattenberg and the addition of the Marcellus Joint Venture.

The DJ Basin production totaled 73,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, with oil representing 39% of the volume mix, and Natural Gas Liquids representing 17% of the total volumes.

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