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National Fuel pulls up fiscal Q1 earnings on Appalachian production boost

National Fuel Gas Co. reported fiscal first-quarter 2017 consolidated net income of $88.9 million, or $1.04 per share, compared to a loss of $189.1 million, or $2.23 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Fiscal first-quarter operating income also amounted to $88.9 million, or $1.04 per share, compared to $66.2 million, or 78 cents per share, in the same quarter a year earlier. Adjusted EBITDA rose to $228.3 million in the quarter from $204.8 million a year earlier. The company's fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016.

National Fuel's exploration and production arm, Seneca Resources Corp., reported a 18% year-over-year increase in net production for the fiscal first quarter, to 44.9 Bcfe, with net natural gas production increasing 21% year-over-year, credited to higher natural gas production in Appalachia.

"Our 2017 fiscal year is off to a great start. Aside from our pipeline and storage segment, where earnings were down modestly, each of the other segments improved its financial performance over the prior year," said Ronald Tanski, president and CEO of National Fuel.

The company increased its fiscal 2017 earnings guidance to a range of $3.10 per share to $3.30 per share, from $2.85 per share to $3.15 per share. Consolidated CapEx guidance for fiscal 2017 was revised to a range of $535 million to $645 million, a decrease from the previous guidance of $725 million to $835 million.

National Fuel cut its CapEx budget for pipeline and storage to $200 million to $250 million and retained those of its E&P, gathering and utility segments. The total production forecast was changed to a range of 155 Bcfe to 175 Bcfe, from 145 Bcfe to 170 Bcfe.