EQT Misses Quarterly Profit Estimates on Lower Prices, Plans Moderate Drilling Expansion

(Reuters) — EQT Corp., the largest U.S. natural gas producer, missed fourth-quarter profit estimates on Tuesday, as higher sales volumes were offset by lower gas prices.

U.S. natural gas prices NGc1 averaged $2.83 per million British thermal units (Btu) during the October-December quarter, down about 51.3% from a year earlier, when demand for the commodity had soared following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The prices fell as the gas inventories peaked during the last quarter of 2023 quarter due to record production.

EQT said the average realized prices fell to $2.75 per thousand cubic feet equivalent (mcfe) in the fourth quarter from $2.87 per mcfe a year earlier, while its total sales volumes rose to 564 billions of cubic feet equivalent (bcfe) from 459 bcfe.

The company's drilling efficiency helped generate nearly $880 million of free cash flow in 2023, despite natural gas prices averaging at $2.74 per million Btu, CEO Toby Rice said.

Its per unit operating cost fell 8.3% in the reported quarter from $1.39.

EQT plans to run three to four horizontal rigs in 2024, expecting total sales volume of between 2,200 and 2,300 bcfe for the year.

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based company posted an adjusted profit of 48 cents per share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with analysts' average estimate of a profit of 53 cents per share, according to LSEG data.

Shares of the company fell 2.5% in extended trading.

Revenue came in at nearly $1.55 billion, compared to estimates of $1.57 billion.

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