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Comstock Resources (CRK) Q1 Loss Wider than Expected

Domestic energy explorer Comstock Resources Inc. CRK reported first-quarter 2016 loss of $1.03 per share (excluding one-time items), wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 99 cents. The underperformance could be attributed to sliding oil and gas prices.

However, Comstock’s performance improved from the year-ago adjusted loss of $1.06 per share amid excellent natural gas volumes from its Haynesville shale program.


Quarterly revenues plunged 89% year over year to $36.9 million and were below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $39 million.


Volume Analysis

Comstock’s quarterly volume increased 13% year over year to 16.3 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe), of which 85% was natural gas. Higher production from East Texas/North Louisiana properties more than offset the output shrinkage from its South Texas operations. Natural gas output was up by 69% but oil production fell 60%.

While volume in the East Texas/North Louisiana operating region – accounting for 75% of the total – more than doubled year over year to 12.3 Bcfe, output from South Texas properties came in at approximately 3.7 Bcfe (down 53%).

Price Realizations

Average oil price realization (before hedging) was $26.44 per barrel (compared with $44.34 per barrel in the first quarter of 2015) and average natural gas realization was $1.82 per thousand cubic feet/Mcf (compared with $2.51 per Mcf in the year-earlier quarter).

Costs & Expenses

Gathering and transportation costs came in at $4.4 million, representing an increase of 53% from the year-ago quarter. Meanwhile, lease operating cost of $13 million saw a 14% year-over-year fall.

Total operating expenses fell 43% from the first quarter of 2015 to $93.4 million.

Cash Flow & EBITDAX

Comstock’s operating cash flow from continuing operations turned negative in the reported quarter, as it spend $31 million more cash than it generated by producing and selling oil and gas. On the contrary, the company reported operating cash flow of $60.2 million last year.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, depletion, amortization, exploration expense and other non-cash expenses (EBITDAX) from continuing operations also deteriorated significantly - at $14.7 million, it was 63% lower year over year.

Capital Expenditure & Balance Sheet

In the reported quarter, Comstock spent $7.1 million on development drilling activities, a massive 92% decline from the $94.5 million incurred a year ago. As of Mar 31, 2016, the company had $89.3 million in cash and cash equivalents and $1,210.6 million in long-term debt.

Zacks Rank

Currently, Comstock Resources holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Better-ranked players from the sector include Cobalt International Energy Inc. CIE, Bonanza Creek Energy Inc. BCEI and EXCO Resources Inc. XCO. All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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