UPDATE 1-PetroQuest Energy 4th-qtr profit beats estimates
* Q4 EPS $0.04 vs est $0.03
* Q4 oil and gas sales $38 mln
Feb 28 (Reuters) - PetroQuest Energy Inc's fourth-quarter profit beat analysts' estimates on higher volumes and the gas-focused explorer said it expects higher production in the first quarter as it ramps up production at assets in Oklahoma.
The company expects first-quarter production of 86-90 million cubic feet equivalent per day (MMcfe/d), most of which would be focused towards gas.
Medium-sized U.S. oil and natural gas producers like Swift Energy, Gulfport Energy forecast higher production for 2012 while many of their bigger rivals are cutting output citing decade-low gas prices.
October-December net income rose to $2.3 million, or 4 cents a share, compared with $2.1 million, or 3 cents a share a year ago.
Analysts, on an average, were expecting the company to earn 3 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Fourth-quarter oil and gas sales fell 12 percent to $38 million.
The company expects to produce 87-92 MMcfe/d in 2012 and has earmarked $90-$100 million for capital expenditures.
It has accelerated drilling at its Mississippian Lime and the Woodford Shale plays in Oklahoma.
Shares of the Lafayette, Louisiana-based company closed at $6.21 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.
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