Energy exploration and production company Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES – $61.27) widened its loss in the first quarter, though by less than Wall Street expected, as a sluggish oil and gas sector continued to weigh results. Hess, like most energy companies, had been hurt by the extended tumble in commodity prices, which again shaved Hess’ top line in the latest quarter. But Hess also reported lower costs in the period versus the prior-year quarter. For the first period, Hess said average selling prices for crude fell to $28.50 a barrel from $45.08 in the prior-year quarter. Selling prices for natural gas liquids plunged 50% to $7.44 a barrel. Capital spending on exploration and production declined 56% from the prior year to $554 million. Over all, Hess reported a loss of $509 million, or $1.72 a share, compared with a loss of $1.37 a share a year earlier. Total revenue fell 36% to $993 billion. Analysts had expected a loss of $1.83 per share on revenue on $1.02 billion in revenue.
The market has been unkind to New York-based Hess over the past 52 weeks, but the shares have made some progress since its low point of $32.41 set back in January as oil prices rebounded somewhat. Although these shares stand to bounce back nicely out to 2019- 2021, it is suggested only risk-tolerant accounts consider it a holding. That’s because Hess has been in a state of transition, shedding its downstream businesses and other parts of its portfolio, and energy pricing continues to be weak compared to a year ago.