(Adds earnings comparison, updates stock price)
By Ernest Scheyder
April 30 (Reuters) - Oil and natural gas producer Whiting Petroleum Corp posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday as production spiked in the company’s core North Dakota Bakken shale region.
Whiting is one of the largest operators in the oil-rich Bakken and executives have repeatedly praised the state as key to its growth. Despite bitterly cold first-quarter weather in North Dakota, as well as Colorado where Whiting also has large operations, the company met its production forecasts.
The company posted first-quarter net income of $109.1 million, or 91 cents per share, compared with $85.9 million, or 72 cents per share, in the year-ago period.
Excluding hedging losses and other one-time items, the company earned $1.05 per share.
By that measure, analysts expected earnings of 97 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Production rose 12 percent to roughly 100,065 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
For the second quarter, the company expects to produce 97,000 to 99,000 boed.
Shares of Whiting fell about 1 percent to $73.72 in after-hours trading. As of Wednesday’s close, the stock had gained 19 percent so far this year. (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Chris Reese)