* Q4 EPS ex-items 92 cents vs Street view 98 cts
* Proved, developed reserves fall 11 percent
* 2010 capex due at April analyst meeting (Adds analyst quote, updates share price)
By Anna Driver
HOUSTON, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Shares of EOG Resources Inc EOG.N fell 6 percent on Wednesday, a day after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings and reserve data that disappointed Wall Street.
Higher-than-expected operating expenses caused the earnings miss, and investors saw an 11 percent decline in EOG’s proved, developed oil and gas reserves as a negative because those reserves are viewed as most reliable.
“Earnings and cash flow came in a little light,” Irene Haas, an analyst with Canaccord Adams, said. “But the higher-than expected costs are reasonable when you consider EOG’s production is getting oilier and oil has a higher cost structure.”
EOG has been focusing on increasing its oil production in areas like the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. Crude oil prices have settled in around $70 per barrel, while natural gas prices remain burdened by heavy supplies.
On Tuesday, Houston-based EOG reported quarterly earnings of 92 cents a share excluding one-time items. Wall Street analysts on average had expected 98 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
While EOG reported a 24 percent increase in 2009 oil and gas reserves, the decline in proved, developed reserves -- those expected from existing wells -- disappointed investors.
Mark Papa, the company’s chief executive officer, told analysts on a conference call that negative price revisions, especially in Canada, were a big reason for the drop in proved, developed reserves.
When estimating reserves under rules from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, companies use an average price. If it is not economic to produce the reserves at that price, the reserves cannot be added to a company’s reserve total. This leads to fluctuations in reserves as prices go up and down.
Details about EOG’s plans to build up big acreage positions in areas where they can use horizontal drilling to explore for oil, and its 2010 budget, will be revealed at an analyst meeting on April 7, Papa said.
EOG shares were down $5.29, or 5.6 percent, to $89.25 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were down 8.2 percent earlier in the session, their biggest percentage decline in nearly a year. (Reporting by Anna Driver in Houston; editing by Maureen Bavdek, John Wallace and Bernard Orr)