July 29, 2010 / 10:58 AM / in 8 years

UPDATE 2-Cenovus Energy shares drop as earnings disappoint

* Q2 op. profit C$0.19/shr vs. C$0.39 expected

* Cash flow/shr C$0.71 vs C$0.90 expected

* Miss blamed on refining

* Shares down 5.1 pct (Recasts to add details, comments; updates shares)

By Scott Haggett

CALGARY, Alberta, July 29 (Reuters) - Shares of Cenovus Energy Inc (CVE.TO) fell more than 5 percent on Thursday after the oil sands producer missed analyst forecasts due largely to weakness in its refining segment.

Cenovus. Canada’s No. 3 independent oil company, reported an 8 percent rise in quarterly profit, helped mainly by higher oil sands output and one-time gains. It said it was on track to meet its production and cash flow targets for the year.

But the company’s operating profit, which removes most one-time items, was much weaker than expected, coming in at C$142 million ($136 million), or 19 Canadian cents per share, down 72 percent from C$512 million, or 68 Canadian cents, in the year-earlier quarter.

That was well below the average analyst estimate for the measure of 39 Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Cash flow, a closely watched measure of a company’s ability to afford ambitious expansion plans, was also shy of expectations, dropping 43 percent to C$537 million, or 71 Canadian cents per share, below the 90 Canadian cents per share expected.

“The main source of the miss is likely refining, which reported a $24 million loss,” Peter Ogden, an analyst with National Bank Financial, said in a research note.

“With underwhelming (second-quarter) results today, this may remind the Street about the volatility of refining and its potential liability to quarterly results.”

Cenovus, which was spun off last year from Encana Corp (ECA.TO), co-owns two U.S. refineries with ConocoPhillips (COP.N). It said maintenance work cut throughput at the sites and it processed oil bought at high prices in the first quarter for less than expected as crude prices declined during the April to June period.

Cenovus also co-owns two steam-driven oil sands projects in Alberta with Conoco — Foster Creek and Christina Lake — where output climbed a combined 42 percent in the quarter.

Conventional oil and gas production fell 8 percent to 70,000 bpd, as its fields aged and some properties were sold.

Cenovus shares fell C$1.52 to C$28.45 midday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The company’s revenue rose 14 percent to C$3.2 billion.

$1=$1.04 Canadian Additional reporting by Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay; editing by Rob Wilson

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