Pioneer Natural swings to 4th-quarter profit; unveils share offering to fund Permian drilling

2/13/2013

Pioneer Natural swings to 4th-quarter profit; unveils share offering to fund Permian drilling

BY DEBBIE CAI 

DALLAS -- Pioneer Natural Resources swung to a fourth-quarter profit on higher revenue and lower impairment costs, even though average prices of oil and natural gas declined. However, shares slid 3.8% to $122 after hours as profit missed analysts' expectations and the company unveiled a stock offering.

The oil-and-gas exploration-and-production company's focus on natural gas has been affected by low pricing amid slack demand and a surge in production from unconventional shale-gas formations.

Pioneer said it will offer 8 million shares and expects to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, including to accelerate horizontal appraisal drilling in West Texas. The company most recently had about 123.5 million shares outstanding.

Pioneer recently agreed to sell a 40% stake in 207,000 acres in West Texas's Wolfcamp Shale to Chinese conglomerate Sinochem Group in a deal worth $1.7 billion, representing the third-biggest single investment by a Chinese company in the U.S. oil patch.

The company also recently discontinued efforts to divest its properties in the Barnett Shale after receiving several bids that weren't high enough. The properties were reclassified as continuing operations beginning in the latest quarter, and incurred a write-down of $101 million.

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