ConocoPhillips Earnings Call Nuggets: Flat Production Guidance and the Operating Cash Flow Impact

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ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Flat Production Guidance

Faisel Khan – Citigroup: I was wondering if you could clarify the 2013 production guidance it looks like it is going to be relatively flat and certainly the market seems a little bit disappointed today in that number. But going back to your previous slides on last year you did show a dip in expected production in ’13 internationally and growth in the Lower 48 and North American production. So, can you just clarify what’s going on with the production and how you see it just being a bottom in the year and I have a follow-up after that?

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Jeff W. Sheets – EVP & CFO: Yeah, I mean I think the – thanks for the question, Faisel. I think the production guidance is really pretty similar to what we’ve given in the past. We knew that 2013 would be the low point in our production for the year. So, I’m not sure what additional guidance we can have other than what we’ve given on the call at this point. What we’re trying to do is just make it clear now that the asset disposition program has become a little bit more into focus than it has been in the past; just what the production levels are going to be from the assets or long-term – going to be part of our portfolio long-term and that’s what we’re trying to lay out with this production guidance this morning. I think part of the – we’ve been – we anticipate being pretty successful in our asset disposition program. So, we’re probably at the high end of what we’ve – what some people had probably add in their models for the amount of production that’s going out on dispositions as well.

Ellen R. DeSanctis – IR: Let me jump in here quickly, this is Ellen; appreciate again the question. If you look at what we had in April for ’12 and what we had in April for ’13 and you kind of average it over a couple of years, it ends up being that we were – that the timing of divestitures actually ends up slipping from ’12 a little bit to ’13. So, if you look at it on a couple year basis, it ends up being really right on guidance. I think the way to think about this is exit rate-to-exit rate. You think about 4Q this year; the number Jeff provided is sort of (1,510) that had the noise out of this quarter compared to the fourth quarter. To get to the guidance we’ve provided, it will be very significant growth in quarter-over-quarter 2013 to ’12. We’ll provide all these updates at the Analyst meeting. But I think of it as or think of it as – the divestitures stayed in the portfolio in ’12 a little bit longer, and exit rate-to-exit rate is going to be higher because of the timing start-ups – the project start-ups.

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