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ConocoPhillips sees 60% fourth quarter profit growth on rising commodity prices

|Includes: ConocoPhillips (COP)

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) said fourth quarter profit rose 60% as the company benefited from higher oil prices and global refining margins.

For the period, the company reported net income of $2.04 billion, or $1.39 per share, compared to $1.29 billion, or $0.86 per share, for the same period a year earlier.

Excluding gains from sales, writedowns and other one-time items, the company earned $1.32 per share, compared with $1.20 per share in the fourth quarter of 2009. Adjusted earnings were in line with analyst expectations.

Revenue rose 22% to $53.2 billion.

The company, which is currently undergoing a two year restructuring plan that involves asset dispositions to raise capital, said that production in the fourth quarter was 1.73 million barrels of oil equivalent (NYSE:BOE) per day, compared with 1.83 million BOE per day a year earlier.

The production decrease was due to "normal field decline" in North America and Europe, as well as asset sales, ConocoPhillips said. However, earnings from the exploration and production segment rose nearly 9%.

ConocoPhillips said that it is continuing its appraisal and drilling programs in the Eagle Ford, Bakken and North Barnett shale plays, having increased its holdings in the North Barnett area in the fourth quarter. Yesterday, the company announced it was selling some assets in the Barnett Shale to private equity shop KKR.

For 2010, the company had adjusted earnings of $8.8 billion. During the year, it generated $15.4 billion in proceeds from the sales of its assets. It spent $3.9 billion to repurchase 65 million of its own shares, and increased cash and short-term investments by $2.4 billion.

ConocoPhillips rallied more than 2% on Wednesday morning to trade at $68.95 as of 11:03am EST.