Cabot Oil & Gas' CEO Discusses Q3 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Cabot Oil & Gas (COG)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 27, 2011 9:30 am ET

Executives

Scott C. Schroeder - Chief Financial Officer, Vice President and Treasurer

James M. Reid - Vice President and Manager of South Region

Dan O. Dinges - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, President and Member of Executive Committee

Jeffrey W. Hutton - Vice President of Marketing

Phillip L. Stalnaker - Vice President and Manager of North Region

Analysts

Robert L. Christensen - Buckingham Research Group, Inc.

Pearce W. Hammond - Simmons & Company International, Research Division

Brian Singer - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Raymond J. Deacon - Brean Murray, Carret & Co., LLC, Research Division

Michael Hall - Stifel, Nicolaus & Company

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

Biju Z. Perincheril - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

John C. Nelson - Macquarie Research

Marshall H. Carver - Capital One Southcoast, Inc., Research Division

Gil Yang - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Unknown Analyst -

Amir Arif - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good morning. My name is Holly, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Cabot Oil & Gas Quarter 3 2011 Conference Call . [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn today's call over to Dan Dinges, Chairman, President and CEO. Please go ahead, sir.

Dan O. Dinges

Thank you, Holly. Appreciate everybody joining us this morning. I have in the room with me today Scott Schroeder; Jeff Hutton, VP Marketing; Steve Lindeman, our VP of Engineering; Matt Reid, our VP of South Region; and Phil Stalnaker, our VP of our North Region.

Let me just make an opening comment that the forward-looking statements included in the press release do apply to my comments today. At this time, we have many things to cover, and I'll also try to expand on the press releases that were issued last night. Briefly cover the third quarter financial results, a discussion of operations in Pennsylvania, Texas and Oklahoma.

Additionally, I will discuss our outlook for the next 15 months for Cabot. But before I get into the details on these topics, let me start with a summary of our impressive results so far year-to-date in 2011 and a quick overview of expectations for '12. In '11, Cabot will grow production in the 40% to 46% range net of asset sales. We will grow reserves 10-plus percent. We will reduce or at a minimum maintain total debt at a level below $1 billion.

And this is all generated by a program that encompasses a total rig count of 7, which I think indicates the prolific nature of our portfolio. If we look ahead, 2012, our expectations will be -- and this is off of a larger base, grow production between 45% and 55% or grow reserves again 10-plus percent, maintain or reduce debt without asset sales and again, all generated from a total rig count of 7.

I think from the guidance I have seen from the industry, Cabot's numbers are unmatched. In fact, I've been in the business for over 30 years and it's rare that I've seen numbers that can demonstrate this amount of growth in a cash flow neutral to cash flow positive program. Cabot's financial report for third quarter had clean earnings of $35 million and with discretionary cash flow of $165 million. This quarter continued the consistent trend of low natural gas price realizations offset by very robust production growth. We expect natural gas prices to remain ranged bound through the remainder of 2011 or until seasonal factors kick in. Additionally, we do anticipate further production advances for the remainder of the year as infrastructure capabilities do become available, though we have not included these in our fourth quarter guidance.

In terms of third quarter production, the company posted a 39% growth rate between comparable third quarters reporting 50 Bcf. We continue to enjoy high growth rates from our gas portfolio, but I'm particularly pleased to see the results of our liquids initiative with over 100% growth in oil and related liquid volumes between comparable third quarters. Clearly, this indicate -- this increase comes from our Eagle Ford effort with more wells coming online. We do expect to see an ongoing increase in our liquids production.

The guidance last night, we posted new guidance with regard to '12 production. We initiated with a range of growth between 45% and 55%. We provided detail for the first quarter only due to the fact that there are several infrastructure projects in the works with estimated 2012 start dates.

As we have seen this year, multifaceted projects at timeframes that can slide. Our expectation is we will have a much clearer, more exact timing on this front by February call when we could give more specific details. With that said, let me emphasize again, at a minimum, we anticipate 2012 production growth to be in the 45% to 55% range. In terms of 2011 fourth quarter, we maintained our existing guidance with 9 months of actual production having already exceeded last year's record total level. Our expectation for 2011 will be faraway better than any time in our history.

This rate also takes into account the sold production and several infrastructure delays. In terms of infrastructure, Laser just came online this week up in PA, and Springville is still expected in mid-December, again, no incremental volumes in 2011 and from Springville are contemplated for us to stay within our guidance. Cost guidance has been updated with no change fourth quarter 2011. However, our first quarter of '12 reflects reduction to operating expense, DD&A and financing at increased to transportation, G&A and maintain error taxes and exploration expense.

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