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Canadian Natural lifts dividend as Q4 profit triples on increased output

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Canadian Natural Resources Limited (TSE:CNQ) (NYSE:CNQ), the nation’s second largest energy producer, lifted its dividend after tripling its fourth-quarter profit, helped by increasing output to outstrip the impact of falling crude prices. Shares advanced.

Net income nearly tripled to C$1.03 billion, or C$1.09 per share, in the October-to-December quarter, from C$413 million or C$0.38 a year earlier, the Calgary, Alberta-based company said in a statement today.

Adjusted earnings were C$0.69 per share, above the $0.68 average estimate of 11 analysts polled by Capital IQ.

Product sales increased to C$4.85 billion from C$4.33 billion last year. Revenue was C$4.38 billion, compared to C$3.95 billion. Analysts predicted revenue of C$4.91 billion for the quarter.

The company's cash flow, a key indicator of its ability to pay for its planned projects, jumped nearly a third to C$2.37 billion, or C$2.16 per share.

The company produced 860,920 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), a 27 percent rise versus the year-earlier period.

The company today again lowered its capital budget by C$150 million to C$6.04 billion. Earlier in January, it slashed its 2015 capital budget by 28 percent and postponed a heavy oil project.

As a result of the focus on cost control, the members of Canadian Natural's management committee have agreed to a 10 percent salary reduction, effective March 1, 2015. Concurrently, the Board of Directors has also agreed to reduce their annual Board cash retainer by 10 percent.

Oil prices have nearly halved since their highs in June, hurt by a global supply glut and weak demand.

Canadian Natural boosted its quarterly cash dividend to C$0.23 per share from C$0.225 per share, payable on April 1. The dividend will be payable April 1, 2015 to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 16, 2015.

The company’s U.S.-listed shares gained as much as 2.1 percent after closing at $29.64 yesterday, up 0.2 percent on the day, but down 4 percent this year.

Quick facts: Canadian Natural Resources Limited

Price: 22.54 CAD

TSX:CNQ
Market: TSX
Market Cap: $26.62 billion
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