March 1, 2010 / 2:41 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 2-El Paso profit tops Wall St, ups output view

* Q4 EPS ex-items 34 cts vs Wall Street 28 cts

* Revenues slip 11 pct

* Shares rise more than 3 pct (Changes dateline from NEW YORK, updates share price, adds background, analyst quote)

HOUSTON, March 1 (Reuters) - El Paso Corp EP.N, a natural gas producer and pipeline owner, reported a quarterly profit compared with a year-ago loss and raised its production forecast for the year.

Shares of El Paso climbed 3.5 percent, or 37 cents, to $10.84 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

El Paso is in the midst of a plan to boost shareholder returns and liquidity by selling assets, cutting costs and growing its exploration and production shale gas business.

Profit in the quarter was $274 million, or 36 cents per diluted share, compared with a loss of $1.68 billion, or $2.43 per share, a year earlier when falling energy prices forced the company to write down the value of assets.

Excluding items, the Houston company had a profit of 34 cents per share. That compares with the Wall Street consensus estimate of 28 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The earnings beat was in part driven by a lower effective tax rate and lower corporate expenses, energy research firm Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co said in a note to clients.

Revenue fell 11 percent to $1.19 billion, in line with analysts’ forecasts.

The company raised its production forecast for 2010 to between 740 million and 780 million cubic feet equivalent of gas per day, up from 720 million to 760 million cfe per day. (Reporting by Matt Daily in New York and Anna Driver in Houston; Editing by Derek Caney, Dave Zimmerman)

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