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ConocoPhillips posts 4th-quarter loss, slashes dividend

HOUSTON — ConocoPhillips posted a wider-than-expected loss in the fourth quarter and slashed its quarterly dividend by 66 percent as oil prices continue to drop.

The energy company’s stock fell 4 percent before the market open on Thursday.

ConocoPhillips said it is lowering its dividend to 25 cents per share from 74 cents per share. The dividend is payable on March 1 to shareholders of record on Feb. 16. The company also reduced its 2016 capital expenditures outlook and operating cost guidance.

Chairman and CEO Ryan Lance said the company was taking such steps to safeguard against falling oil prices.

“While we don’t know how far commodity prices will fall, or the duration of the downturn, we believe it’s prudent to plan for lower prices for a longer period of time,” Lance said in a written statement.

ConocoPhillips lost $3.45 billion, or $2.78 per share, for the quarter. That compares with a loss of $39 million, or 3 cents per share, a year earlier.

Losses, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 90 cents per share.

The results missed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of 64 cents per share.

The Houston company’s quarterly revenue totaled $6.77 billion.

For the year, ConocoPhillips reported an adjusted loss of $1.40 per share on revenue of$30.94 billion.

In related news, Shell reports 44 percent drop in 4Q earnings.

Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on COP at http://www.zacks.com/ap/COP

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