* EPS ex-items $2.02 vs. Wall St view of $2.08
* Shares down 1.9 percent
April 23 (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips, which is splitting into two stand-alone companies at the end of the month, reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit, hurt by weak refining margins and said its oil and gas output would slip in the second quarter.
Net profit for the first quarter was $2.9 billion, or $2.27 per share, compared with $3 billion, or $2.09 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding $330 million of net special gains, earnings were $2.02 per share. That fell short of the analysts’ average forecast of $2.08, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Refining and marketing profit fell to $452 million from $482 million a year earlier, while the oil and gas exploration and production arm’s earnings, excluding one-time items, declined to $2.13 billion from $2.2 billion.
Revenues rose slightly to $58.35 billion.
The company said its share buybacks, which totaled $1.9 billion in the first quarter, would rise to about $5 billion in the second quarter.
Oil and gas production totaled 1.64 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in the quarter, down 65,000 from a year earlier, but above the 1.62 million it had said earlier this month that it produced.
The decline was due largely to assets sales and the shutdown of a field in Bohai Bay, China, after a leak there, the company said.
Production would continue to decline in the current quarter from the first quarter, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Sheets said in a conference call, largely because of maintenance at 50,000 to 60,000 boepd at projects in Australia, Britain, Alaska and a joint venture in Canada.
Weak natural gas prices in the United States also weighed on profits during the quarter, and Sheets said the company was considering shutting in production above the 9,000 boepd it had already halted.
Last week, ConocoPhillips said output from its oil and gas production arm would rise 3 percent to 5 percent annually, reaching 1.8 million barrels of oil per day by 2016.
The company’s refining and marketing operations will be spun off into a stand-alone business named “Phillips 66.”
Shares of ConocoPhillips were down 0.3 percent at $72.63 in line with the modest declines in the oil sector.
The stock had risen slightly more than 1 percent through Friday’s close, outperforming the drop of nearly 3 percent in the Chicago Board Options Exchange’s index of oil companies .