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Apache plans to sell $4B in assets by year's end

HOUSTON (AP) -- Apache plans to sell $4 billion in assets by year's end to slash debt and the energy company announced a $2 billion buy back of its own stock, sending shares higher in early trading Thursday.

Apache reported a 10 percent decline in first-quarter earnings as well, continuing a tough stretch for the company. It blamed lower commodity prices.

For the period ended March 31, net income after preferred dividends fell 10 percent to $698 million, or $1.76 per share, from $778 million, or $2 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, earnings were $2.02 per share, which was well short of the $2.20 that Wall Street was looking for, according to a poll by FactSet.

Revenue declined 10 percent to $4.08 billion, also short of expectations.

Shares of the Houston company climbed $2.34, or 3 percent, to $80.10. The shares have traded in a 52-week range of $67.91 to $94.87.