Magnum Hunter Resources (NYSE:MHR) announced first-quarter operating results before markets opened this morning. The independent oil and gas company reported an adjusted net loss of $0.15 per share, which was two pennies more than analysts had expected. However, that's a slight improvement from the $0.16 per share adjusted net loss the company reported in last year's first quarter.

The company also reported adjusted EBITDAX of $38.9 million, which was 89% higher than the year-ago quarter. Higher production volume and higher throughput volume from the company's midstream segment yielded the noticeable improvement in the Magnum Hunter's underlying cash flow. The company also enjoyed much higher natural-gas prices at a time when its natural-gas production is surging.

Overall, production averaged 14,796 barrels of oil per day, or BOE/d, in the first quarter. However, on an adjusted basis production was 17,241 BOE/d. This represented a 59% increase from last year's first quarter. The adjusted production reflects the more than $100 million in noncore asset sales the company is closing.

Meanwhile, Magnum Hunter Resources' midstream segment's throughput volumes reached a record high in the quarter. That yielded a 99% increase in the segment's revenue over the prior year's first quarter.

The other big highlight this past quarter was the results from Magnum Hunter Resources' first completed well in the Utica shale. The Stalder #3UH well tested at a peak rate of 32.5 MMCF/d. That is one of the highest rates achieved by any operator drilling in the dry gas part of the Utica.

Looking ahead, the company plans to continue selling noncore assets in an effort to boost its liquidity so that it can continue drilling high rate of return wells. The company expects to continue growing its production in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays while also increasing the throughput volumes in its midstream system to improve returns.

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