UPDATE 3-Expenses, prices hit Apache's fourth-quarter profit

Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:27pm EST
 
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* Fourth-quarter adjusted EPS $2.27 vs est. $2.30

* Costs higher than expected

* Apache shares fall 4.7 pct

* 2013 output growth seen at 3-5 percent (Adds company forecasts, CEO comments, closing stock prices)

By Anna Driver

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Apache Corp's fourth-quarter profit fell short of expectations as expenses rose on labor and maintenance costs, and the company's 2013 oil and natural gas production outlook also disappointed.

The results marked Apache's fourth consecutive earnings miss, and its shares fell nearly 5 percent on Thursday.

Apache and most other exploration and production companies are spending more to drill for more profitable oil and natural gas liquids (NGL) as heavy supplies weigh on natural gas prices.

Still, the Houston company said average oil prices fell nearly 4 percent in the quarter while NGL prices dropped 26 percent.   Continued...