Hess ( HES) reported Wednesday that its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2007 soared 42% over the same period last year, energized by higher commodity prices and increased production volumes. The company earned $510 million, or $1.59 a share, up from $359 million, or $1.13 a share, a year earlier. The quarterly figures included a one-time charge of $56 million for asset impairments. The company generated $9.5 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter, a 32% increase over the same period a year ago. Exploration and production earnings were $583 million, compared with $350 million in the fourth quarter of 2006. Hess' total operating earnings were partially offset by lower refining and marketing margins. The company's average realized price of crude was $76.11 a barrel, an increase of some $25 from the prior year. Its average natural gas price was $6.93 per thousand cubic feet, up from $5.25 per MCF last year. Also, Hess produced a daily average of 390,000 barrels of oil equivalent in the quarter, up from 366,000 BOE per day a year ago. Proved oil and gas reserves increased to 1.33 million BOE, vs. 1.24 million BOE at the end of 2006. Shares of Hess were recently down 1.3% at $89.95.