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Newfield Exploration shares jump on strong 1Q

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Newfield Exploration Co. jumped Wednesday after the oil and natural gas company posted solid first-quarter results on better-than-expected production.

THE SPARK: Newfield posted a loss of $8 million, or 6 cents per share, compared with a profit of $116 million, or 86 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. But excluding one-time items, the company had an adjusted profit of 45 cents per share.

Revenue fell 4 percent to $651 million.

Analysts on average expected 45 cents per share on $649.2 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

THE BIG PICTURE: Woodland, Texas-based Newfield said its first-quarter production beat the predictions it made at the beginning of the year. It added that it's on target to deliver on its previously projected 39 percent growth in domestic liquids volumes for the year.

Newfield shares have tumbled in recent months, losing about 26 percent of their value since the beginning of the year and 33 percent in just the last 10 weeks.

THE ANALYSIS: Stifel Nicolaus analyst Amir Arif backed his "Hold" rating on the stock, calling the first-quarter results "slightly positive." But he said that given the company's recent track record of disappointments, it will need to do more than just post one good quarter to attract investors.

Barclays analyst Thomas Driscoll was more optimistic, saying that weak prices and possibly a higher tax rate may be masking the operational improvements investors have been waiting for. Driscoll, who backed his "Overweight" rating for the stock, noted that the company's first-quarter production was higher than he expected.

THE SHARES: Up $1.59, or 8 percent, to $21.43 in afternoon trading after peaking at $21.85 earlier in the session. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock has traded between $19.57 and $36.66.