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Hess 1Q net income doubles on asset sale gains

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hess Corp. said Wednesday that its first-quarter net income more than doubled, helped by hefty gains from asset sales.

The New York-based oil company earned $1.28 billion, or $3.72 per share, compared with $545 million, or $1.60 per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Excluding gains on asset sales and other one-time items, the company's adjusted profit was $1.95 per share.

Analysts, on average, expected $1.58 per share, according to FactSet.

Total revenue rose 39 percent to $4.12 billion.

Oil and gas production fell 2 percent to 389,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, mainly as a result of asset sales and lower production from a field in Norway. Hess' average worldwide crude oil selling price, including the effect of hedging, increased 5 percent to $94.50 per barrel.

Under pressure from some shareholders, Hess continues to shift its focus away from refining and toward exploration and production. As part of that plan, it's selling off some assets.

During the first quarter Hess completed the sales of its interests in fields in the North Sea and Azerbaijan, and it announced a deal to sell its acreage in Texas' Eagle Ford shale.

After the quarter ended, the company also announced a deal to sell its Russian subsidiary for proceeds of $1.8 billion. Including that deal, the company said total proceeds from asset sales so far this year amount to about $3.4 billion.

In March Hess announced plans to sell its retail gas stations business, along with its energy trading and marketing businesses. It also intends to sell U.S. oil storage terminals and will close a New Jersey refinery, as it exits the volatile refining business.

Hess shares rose $1.76, or 2.6 percent, to $69.97 in morning trading.