Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of oil and gas company QEP Resources (NYSE: QEP) jumped as much as 10.6% today after the company released better than expected earnings.

So what: In the fourth quarter of 2011 adjusted EBITDA jumped 31%, to $390.5 million, on the back of higher production. Adjusted earnings per share were $0.58, topping the $0.46 in earnings per share analysts had expected.

Now what: Like most oil and gas companies, QEP is devoting most of its attention to oil production in 2012. The company is reducing the amount of capital devoted to gas production this year and has reduced EBITDA expectations slightly. Now the company expects to generate between $1.35 billion and $1.45 billion in adjusted EBITDA in 2012, a reduction of $100 million from previous guidance.

The earnings beat is positive in the short term, but I'm not terribly excited about the prospect of lower-than-expected earnings next year if natural gas prices remain low.

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