Apache plans $2 billion of asset sales after buying spree

Apache Corp., the fourth-largest U.S. independent oil and natural gas producer by market value, plans to sell assets worth about $2 billion after a three-year buying spree expanded the company’s holdings and its debt.

Proceeds from the divestitures may help pay down debt, Apache Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Farris said on a conference call with analysts and investors today. He declined to specify which assets he may sell.

Apache, based in Houston, spent more than $16 billion buying assets from 2010 to 2012, boosting holdings in the U.S., Canada, Egypt and the North Sea. The company is now focused on drilling and major acquisitions aren’t part of the current strategy, Farris said.

“Having acquired $16 billion of assets over the past three years and strengthening our asset base, we have been in the process of reviewing our overall portfolio,” Farris said.

Long-term debt was about $11.4 billion at the end of 2012, compared with about $6.8 billion at the close of 2011, according to a statement today.
Apache said fourth-quarter profit excluding one-time costs and gains was $2.27 a share, 2 cents less than the average of 28 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That marked Apache’s fourth straight adjusted quarterly profit that missed analysts’ estimates.

Apache said on its conference call that production may climb 3 percent to 5 percent this year, which is less than the company’s long-term annual growth target of 6 percent to 9 percent, which remains unchanged. The 2013 output forecast may be adjusted following asset sales, the company said. Apache’s capital budget is about $10.5 billion for 2013.

Apache fell 4.7 percent to $80.33 at the close in New York.

ConocoPhillips, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and EOG Resources Inc. are the largest U.S. independent oil and gas producers by market value, meaning they don’t have refineries or chemical units.