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Ahead of the Bell: ConocoPhillips 4Q results

NEW YORK (AP) -- CononcoPhillips shares were down in premarket trading on Thursday after the oil company said fourth-quarter earnings fell as prices for oil and natural gas declined.

The Houston-based company also said 2013 production would decline to 1.475 to 1.525 million barrels per day. Last year, it produced a total of 1.578 million barrels per day.

The company said first-quarter production would be 1.58 to 1.6 million barrels per day.

Oil and gas producers have been struggling because an abundance of natural gas has driven down prices. ConocoPhillips said its total realized price fell to $67.45 per barrels of oil equivalent, down from $69.99 a year ago. While crude oil prices fell slightly, natural gas liquids prices dropped 18 percent, and bitumen prices fell 31 percent.

In May, ConocoPhillips spun of its refining and pipeline unit into Phillips 66, so some of its earnings and revenue decline was because it no longer has those operations.

Its fourth quarter net income was $1.43 billion, or $1.16 per share, down by more than half from $3.39 billion, or $2.56 per share, a year ago. Leaving out the refinery operations and other special items, it would have earned $1.76 billion, or $1.43 per share, down from year-ago adjusted earnings of $2.1 billion, or $1.55 per share.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting a profit of $1.42 per share.

Revenue rose 1.5 percent to $16.37 billion, from $16.12 billion a year ago.

Its shares slipped $1.29, or 2.1 percent, to $59.80 in premarket trading. On Wednesday, before it reported results, its shares fell 55 cents to close at $61.09, still showing a gain of about 5 percent since the start of the year.