Israel Production Helps Noble Boost Q4 Profit

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Noble Energy, the independent oil and natural gas producer, said its fourth-quarter profit jumped to $52 million, or 29 cents a share, compared with $8 million, or $1.01 a share, a year earlier due to rising oil prices and increased demand in the U.S. and Israel.

Excluding one-time items Texas-based Noble earned $1.04 a share, topping the consensus estimate of $1.01. The company said revenue rose to $783 million from $760 million, but that missed the Wall Street estimate of $789.75 million. Noble (NBL) said robust demand in natural gas in Israel helped bolster profits in the quarter.

The company said it plans to reduce its capital spending by 7% to $2.7 billion this year. Noble expects to produce 208,000-218,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day this year, which is about on par with its production levels in the last two years. The company is aiming to double the size of its Niobrara Shale project this year.

Estimated reserves at the end of 2010 were approximately 1.1 billion barrels of oil equivalent, up 33% from 2009. Reserves in the U.S. accounted for 45% of the total, with international the remaining 55%. The Company's 2010 reserve mix is 33% global liquids, 42% international natural gas, and 25% U.S. natural gas, according to a statement issued by the company.