Oil producer Apache posts smaller loss, accelerates cost cuts

(Reuters) - U.S. oil producer Apache Corp APA.O reported a smaller third-quarter loss on Wednesday that beat analysts' estimates, and said capital spending this year would be at the low end of its plan.

Oil companies have been slashing spending and output following sharply weaker demand and pricing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apache has lost money for eight quarters in a row following a failed bet on U.S. shale.

The company’s third-quarter adjusted loss was 16 cents per share, compared with analysts’ estimates of a loss of 35 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Results benefited from cost cuts and a return of production from wells that were shut in earlier this year, the company said.

Results lifted shares nearly 2% in after-market trading. The stock traded at $8.99, down 65% year to date.

Apache forecast fourth-quarter production would fall 10% to 355,000 barrels of oil and gas per day, from 394,000 in the quarter ended Sept. 30. Fourth-quarter capital spending will be $200 million, bringing the total for the year to $1 billion, from an original budget of as much as $1.9 billion.

Next year’s project spending will be $1 billion or lower, and weighted heavily toward promising oil discoveries off the northeastern coast of South America’s Suriname, said Chief Executive Officer John Christmann.

The company posted a loss attributable to common stock of $4 million, or 2 cents per share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with a loss of $170 million, or 45 cents per share, a year earlier.

Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Shounak Dasgupta