EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) maintained its momentum during the third quarter, producing expectation-smashing earnings once again. That's after the top-tier shale driller reported $1 billion, or $1.75 per share, of adjusted net income during the quarter, which outpaced the consensus estimate by $0.22 per share.
Because that number was so eye-catching, it's possible that investors might have missed several other, even more important figures. Here's a look at five that investors won't want to miss.
27%: U.S. oil production growth
Heading into the third quarter, EOG Resources estimated that it would produce between 401,000 and 409,000 barrels of oil per day (BPD) in the U.S. However, thanks to its continued drilling prowess, the company's actual U.S. oil output averaged 415,000 BPD, which was up 27% compared with the third quarter of last year. Fueling the stronger-than-expected outcome was exceptionally robust drilling results in the Wolfcamp formation of the Delaware Basin. The company completed 58 wells in the quarter that produced an average of 1,655 BPD during their first month online, which was 32% higher than the output of the same number of newly finished wells in the region during the second quarter.
$69.53: Realized per-barrel price
EOG Resources sold its crude oil for an average of $69.53 per barrel during the quarter, which was its best level in years. What's noteworthy about that price is that it's $3.51 per barrel higher than what its peers sold their oil for on average during the quarter. Driving EOG's ability to sell its oil for better prices is its underrated marketing operations that align its production to the highest value markets so that it can squeeze the most out of each barrel.
$2.3 billion: Discretionary cash flow
EOG Resources' surging oil production and peer-leading price realizations enabled the company to cash in during the quarter. The driller generated $2.3 billion in discretionary cash flow -- which makes adjustments to reflect actual cash flows produced during the quarter -- up a jaw-dropping 95% year over year. While higher realized oil prices helped fuel that gain, the company also continued to push down costs, including reducing its cash operating costs nearly 7% over the past year.
$503 million: Free cash flow
EOG Resources generated enough cash during the quarter to fully fund $1.7 billion in capital expenses and pay out $107 million in dividends -- which it increased 31% from last year -- leaving it with $503 million in excess cash. The company has now generated more than $1 billion in free cash flow this year, helping boost its cash balance to $1.2 billion. The company plans to use its growing stream of excess cash to pay off debt as it matures in the coming years, aiming to retire $3 billion by 2021, which would reduce its total to $3.4 billion.
$5.9 billion: Midpoint of its 2018 capital budget
With a cash-gushing business and a cash-rich balance sheet, EOG has the resources to boost spending, which it now plans to do. The company is increasing its capital budget range to $5.8 billion to $6 billion, or $5.9 billion at the midpoint, which is up from its prior range of $5.4 billion to $5.8 billion, a $5.6 billion midpoint. Driving that increase is EOG's desire to keep its drilling machine firing on all cylinders by retaining high-performing service providers for the balance of the year so that it can keep them going in 2019. That increased spending will enable the company to grow its U.S. oil production by 19% this year, up from its previous estimate of 18% year-over-year growth.
What's noteworthy about EOG's budget expansion is that service cost inflation, which caused many rivals to boost their budgets earlier this year, isn't driving this spending increase -- quite the opposite, in fact, as the company has locked in service contracts that will drive down well costs and improve returns. That's because EOG is taking advantage of a notable year-end slowdown in drilling activities to lock in many of the services it needs for the next year at better overall prices.
More of the same from the shale giant
EOG Resources continues to deliver strong operational and financial results by focusing on drilling for returns, driving out costs, and squeezing out as much money per barrel as it can. Meanwhile, the company has positioned itself for continued success in 2019 by taking advantage of the year-end slowdown to lock up the services it needs for next year. Those factors are among the many reasons why EOG Resources is a great oil stock to buy and hold for the long term.