Conoco fourth-quarter earnings drop 77 percent from year ago


Thursday, January 24th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



HOUSTON (AP) _ Conoco Inc. reported Thursday its earnings for the fourth quarter fell 77 percent from a year ago because of lower prices for refined products, crude oil and natural gas.

Conoco earned $127 million, or 20 cents per share, for the fourth quarter, compared with $550 million, or 87 cents, in the same period in 2000.

Houston-based Conoco said it would have earned $197 million, or 31 cents per share, if not for $70 million in costs associated with a court settlement for a discontinued business related to its separation from Dupont Co. and for debt reduction associated with its acquisition of Gulf Canada earlier this year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call were expecting earnings of 35 cents per share.

Conoco also reported that earnings for the entire year were down 16 percent.

Despite the declines, Conoco chairman and chief executive officer Archie Dunham was upbeat about the company's performance in 2001.

``Despite falling prices and margins in the last half of the year due to general economic weakness and unseasonably warm weather in North America, we again delivered very strong earnings _ the second best in our history,'' Dunham said.

Conoco announced plans in November to unite with Bartlesville, Okla.-based Phillips Petroleum Co. and move Phillips' headquarters to Houston in a deal worth $15.6 billion.

The merger is expected to close in the third quarter if shareholders and regulators approve. Shareholders could vote on the deal next month.

Conoco officials said oil and natural gas production increased 32 percent in the fourth quarter and 18 percent during the year.

In trading early Thursday, shares of Conoco were down 15 cents to $27.96 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Revenues for the quarter were $8.5 billion, down 18 percent from $10.4 billion in the year-ago period.

Conoco reported its annual net income for 2001 fell 16 percent to $1.6 billion, or $2.50 per share, compared to $1.9 billion, or $3 per share in 2000.

Revenues for 2001 grew slightly, by 0.5 percent, to $39.5 billion from $39.3 billion a year ago.

Conoco announced plans in November to unite with Bartlesville, Okla.-based Phillips Petroleum Co. and move Phillips' headquarters to Houston in a deal worth $15.6 billion.

The merger is expected to close in the third quarter if shareholders and regulators approve. Shareholders could vote on the deal next month.