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XTO Profit Rises 161%

It beats estimates on the top and bottom lines.
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XTO Energy's


fourth-quarter earnings shot up 161% from a year ago as the company boosted production and feasted on higher prices for oil and natural gas.

XTO earned $454 million, or $1.22 a share, in the quarter, compared with $174 million, or 50 cents a share, a year ago. Adjusted for stock options and a derivatives gain, the energy company earned $440 million, or $1.21 a share, in the latest quarter, beating the Thomson First Call consensus estimate by 11 cents.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 96% from a year ago to $1.18 billion, above the consensus estimate of $1.13 billion.

XTO said fourth-quarter natural gas production was 1.10 billion cubic feet a day, up 20% from a year ago, while oil production was 41,976 barrels a day, up 25% from a year ago. The average realized price for gas was $9.09 per thousand cubic feet, up 71% from a year ago, while the average crude prices was $49.59 a barrel, up 21%.

"We see 2006 as another breakout year for our shareholders," XTO said. "The company is planning a base of 10% to 12% production growth. Our distribution of all remaining Hugoton Royalty Trust Units to shareholders is equivalent to about a 5% dividend. When combined with XTO's annual cash dividend, value creation for 2006 starts at 16% to 18%."

The shares closed at $44.86 Tuesday.