Asset Sales Fuel a Rise in ConocoPhillips' Third-Quarter Earnings

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP  ) reported solid third-quarter results before the market opened today. Asset sales fueled a rise in earnings to $2.48 billion or $2.00 per share, which was up from last year's $1.8 billion in earnings or $1.46 per share. Even on an adjusted basis ConocoPhillips earned $1.47 per share, which was a penny higher than analysts were expecting.

During the quarter, the company completed the sale of its Clyden undeveloped oil sands leasehold in Canada to ExxonMobil and Imperial Oil. The company also closed the sale of its Phoenix Park midstream asset in Trinidad and Tobago in the quarter. These sales are part of the company's announced disposition program of its non-strategic assets.

The other major highlight on the quarter is that the company delivered a 40% production jump from its positions in the Eagle Ford, Bakken and Permian Basin. Of the three, ConocoPhillips saw the biggest production jump in the Eagle Ford Shale, which jumped 66% year-over-year and now represents a quarter of its production in the lower 48 states.

Overall production was flat compared to the third quarter of last year. However, backing out the asset sales and continued disruptions in Libya indicates that production actually rose by 2%.

Looking ahead, ConocoPhillips remains on track to meet its plan to boost its production and margins by 3%-5% annually through 2017. That's despite a continued small impact to its production from ongoing disruptions in Libya.

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