Western Gas Profit Rises

Hedging gains bolster the fourth quarter.
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Western Gas

(WGR)

said its fourth-quarter profits rose 125% from a year ago due to hedging gains on gas.

The company earned $135.7 million, or $1.76 a share, for the quarter, compared with $60.2 million, or 80 cents a share, a year ago. Net income in the fourth quarter of 2005 reflects a $55.6 million benefit from the non-cash mark-to-market of economic hedges of future sales of gas. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were estimating $72.3 million or $1.01 a share.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 47% from a year ago to $1.3 billion due to an increase in production and higher gas prices. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were estimating revenue of $1.44 billion.

Net production increased 14% to 63 billion cubic feet equivalent in 2005 compared with 2004 and averaged 172.6 million cubic feet equivalent per day. Average gas prices increased 33% to $7.46 per thousand cubic feet in 2005 compared with $5.59 per Mcf in 2004.

"14% production volume growth, 5% processing volume growth, high commodity prices and our low-cost structure delivered our shareholders a record year in 2005 for earnings and cash flow, " said CEO Peter Dea. " We expect this momentum to carry into 2006 with even higher production and throughput growth as we plan to participate in a record number of new wells in the Pinedale Anticline, while Big George coal continues to ramp up and our new 200 MMcfd Oklahoma processing plant commences operations in the second quarter."

Western Gas rose $4.59 to $47.94.

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