March 5, 2015 / 10:34 AM / 4 years ago

Oil and gas producer Canadian Natural's profit beats estimates

(Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by higher production, and the country’s No. 2 oil and gas producer raised its dividend.

The company, which slashed its 2015 capital budget by 28 percent and postponed a heavy oil project in January, said on Thursday it had trimmed the budget further by C$150 million ($120.74 million) to C$6.04 billion as oil prices stay weak.

Canadian Natural Resources also said its management committee has agreed to a 10 percent salary cut, effective March 1. Its board too agreed to cut its annual cash retainer by 10 percent.

Oil prices LCOc1 CLc1 have nearly halved since their highs in June, hurt by a global supply glut and weak demand.

Canadian Natural produced 860,920 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, up 27 percent from a year earlier.

The company’s net earnings nearly tripled to C$1.20 billion, or C$1.09 Canadian cents per share,.

Excluding items, Canadian Natural Resources earned 69 Canadian cents per share, above the average analyst estimate of 67 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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.

Canadian Natural raised its quarterly cash dividend to 23 Canadian cents per share from 22.5 Canadian cents, payable on April 1.

Reporting by Scott Haggett in Calgary and Ashutosh Pandey in Bengaluru; Editing by Joyjeet Das

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