Pioneer Natural trims 2017 budget, cites weak oil prices

(Reuters) - U.S. shale producer Pioneer Natural Resources Co posted a better-than-expected profit on Tuesday, but said it would trim its 2017 capital budget by $100 million to save money at a time of weak oil prices.

The company, one of the largest oil producers in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico, said it would rather conserve cash than bring some wells online. Four of its industry peers trimmed their budgets last week.

Pioneer, which now plans to spend $2.7 billion this year, said 2017 production would be at the low end of a previously forecast range for a 15 percent to 18 percent increase.

“This decision is consistent with our longer-term objective to grow production efficiently by maintaining a steady pace of activity, spending within cash flow, maintaining a strong balance sheet and improving corporate returns,” Pioneer Chief Executive Officer Tim Dove said in a statement.

The decision was not popular on Wall Street. Shares of the Irving, Texas-based company fell 5.8 percent to $153.80 after-hours on Tuesday, after closing slightly higher during regular trading.

The company reported second-quarter net income of $233 million, or $1.36 per share, compared to a net loss of $268 million, or $1.63 per share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding one-time items, including asset sales and hedging, the company earned 21 cents per share. By that measure, analysts expected earnings of 11 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Production rose 11 percent to 259,087 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Pioneer is slated to hold a conference call with investors to discuss the results on Wednesday morning.

Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; editing by Diane Craft and David Gregorio