UPDATE 2-Noble Energy quarterly profit falls short of estimates
* Q2 EPS $0.69 vs Street $0.74
* U.S oil production disappoints
By Anna Driver
July 25 (Reuters) - U.S. oil and gas company Noble Energy Inc on Thursday reported quarterly earnings that fell short of Wall Street expectations because U.S. oil production was hurt by downtime and stormy weather.
Noble, which also has massive reserves of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, is directing capital to boost production of more valuable crude oil and natural gas that has a high liquids contents, so any production hiccup can dent profits.
Output in the second quarter of 2013 was hurt by downtime at a platform in the Gulf of Mexico that handles 12,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) from Noble's Galapagos field and late winter storms in Colorado, Noble told analysts on a conference call.
Still, the disruptions are viewed as temporary, Dave Stover, Noble's chief operating officer told investors on the company's earnings call.
Analysts at Houston-based energy investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt characterized the results as weak and said Noble's U.S. oil production fell short of their forecasts.
Shares of Noble fell 1.3 percent to $63.70 in late morning New York Stock Exchange trading. So far this year, the stock is up 25 percent, compared with a 17 percent gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 index.
Oil and gas sales volumes from continuing operations rose 24 percent to 260,000 boepd. Output was boosted as Noble reached full production from its Tamar field offshore Israel during the quarter.
Profit in the second quarter was $377 million, or $1.04 per share, compared with $292 million, or 79 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, the Houston company reported earnings of 69 cents per share. Wall Street analysts on average had expected a profit of 74 cents per share.
For the third quarter, Noble expects oil and gas sales volumes of 285,000 to 295,000 boepd, a range with an increased midpoint, Noble said.