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Hess 1Q profit skids as asset sales continue

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hess reported sharply lower net income compared with the same quarter last year when the company had a huge asset sale, but it easily beat Wall Street expectations when those one-time benefits from 2013 are discounted.

After resisting pressure from investors, namely, Elliott Capital Management, the company agreed to sell off its gas stations as well as other assets. It also split the roles of chairman and CEO and made changes to the board.

The company is now focused more intently on exploration and production, particularly within the Bakken Shale fields in North Dakota.

The company made $7.8 billion from those sales in 2013 and has continued to make deals. During the first quarter it sold offshore Indonesian assets for $650 million and received $590 million from the sale of assets in the Utica Shale.

It expects to complete the sale of more Utica Shale assets later this year, bringing in about $334 million. On April 23 Hess agreed to sell its assets in Thailand for about $1 billion.

Hess Corp. reported net income fell to $386 million, or $1.20 per share, from $1.28 billion, or $3.72 per share. Excluding one-time items the company said it earned $1.38 per share, down from $1.95 per share a year ago. But that was much better than the $1.03 that analysts had expected, according to a poll by FactSet.

Revenue fell to $5.51 billion from $6.11 billion.

The company produced 318,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day during the first quarter, down from 389,000 barrels a year ago. Hess said adjusted production excluding Libya rose 11 percent.

Shares of Hess picked up 86 cents to $88.88 in morning trading, the highest trading levels of the year.