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Pioneer Natural rises as well starts production

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Pioneer Natural Resources climbed to an all-time high Wednesday after announcing that its first horizontal Wolfcamp Shale well is putting up some healthy production numbers.

THE SPARK: Pioneer said Tuesday that the well, which is located in Martin County, Texas, had an initial 24-hour peak natural flow rate of 1,572 barrels oil equivalent per day with 77 percent oil content.

Chairman and CEO Scott Sheffield said that the company is boosting its horizontal rig count in the northern part of the shale from one rig to five rigs in the second quarter. It has seven horizontal rigs running in the southern part of the shale through a joint interest deal with Sinochem.

More rigs are expected to be added in both the northern and southern parts of the play next year.

THE ANALYSIS: Jack Aydin of KeyBanc Capital Markets said Pioneer is one of his top picks, with the new well's production showing the potential for the northern part of the shale.

The analyst lifted the company's price target to $161 from $148 and kept a "Buy" rating.

Citi Investment Research's Robert Morris said that production from the new well also compares favorably against some of Pioneer's existing wells.

He reiterated a "Buy" rating and $148 price target.

A representative for Pioneer did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

SHARE ACTION: Pioneer Natural Resources Co. rose 5 percent, or $6.93, to $145.90 in midday trading. The stock hit an all-time high of $146.35 earlier in the day.