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UPDATE 2-Conoco posts a five-fold profit leap, raises shareholder returns

(Rewrites, adds details, background)

May 5 (Reuters) - U.S. oil producer ConocoPhillips reported a five-fold increase in profit versus the same quarter a year ago, beating Wall Street’s estimates, after its strategic focus on oil and gas and decision not to hedge gave it the full benefit of high prices.

Following an oil and gas rally driven by the disruption linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, it also announced an increase in 2022 targeted returns for its shareholders by 25% to $10 billion, and said it will raise investments.

While many of the majors have begun to shift their portfolios to lower carbon energy, the Houston-based company is sticking to oil and gas.

It also stands apart in a decision not to hedge its production, a calculated risk that meant it took the full benefit of the rise on international markets.

The Houston-based company adjusted earnings rose to $4.29 billion, or $3.27 per share, from $902 million, or 69 cents per share, a year earlier, beating Wall Street estimates of $3.03 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Its total average realized price was $76.99 per barrel of oil equivalent (boe), 70% higher than in the first quarter of 2021.

Benchmark Brent crude, which broke above the $100 mark in the quarter, was last trading at $110.5 a barrel.

Conoco has a strong presence across conventional and unconventional plays in 16 countries, with big operations in the U.S. Eagle Ford shale, Permian Basin and Bakken shale.

It expects current-quarter production of between 1.67 million boe per day and 1.73 million boe per day, reflecting the impact of seasonal turnarounds planned in Europe and Canada, as well as weather impacts in April in the Bakken.

Conoco raised its capital expenditure for 2022 to $7.8 billion from previous guidance of $7.2 billion. (Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Shounak Dasgupta and Barbara Lewis)

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