UPDATE 1-Conoco shares off 4 percent; output forecast disappoints

Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:47pm EST

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(Adds details from conference call, background)

Jan 31 (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips shares were down 4 percent on Thursday, a day after the U.S. oil and natural gas company issued a production forecast that fell short of some Wall Street expectations.

Conoco is pursuing a strategy aimed at growing production and growing returns to shareholders. To achieve that aim, Conoco is shedding older, less-profitable assets like its Nigerian operations while investing in high-growth areas like the oil-producing Eagle Ford formation in South Texas.

The company has said its long-term production goal is for 3 to 5 percent growth, but output in the fourth quarter was flat at 1.6 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe) as asset dispostions weighed.

And on Wednesday Conoco said it sees full-year 2013 production of 1.475 million to 1.525 million boe per day.

Maintenance and seasonal factors will negatively affect production in the second and third quarters, while a rebound is seen in the fourth quarter as output from new projects is added, the company said on a Thursday conference call with analysts.

Analysts at Houston energy investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt characterized Conoco's production forecast as "negative." Tudor Pickering had expected full-year output of 1.531 million boe per day, it said in a note to clients.

Shares of Conoco dropped $2.57 to $58.52 in morning New York Stock Exchange trading. (Reporting By Anna Driver; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Bob Burgdorfer)

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