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Rice Energy notches $129M profit in 1st quarter

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 8:15 a.m.

Cecil-based Rice Energy Inc. reversed a loss from a year ago with a $129.5 million profit in the first quarter, as it went public to pay off debt and expand its production in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays.

The company on Tuesday posted earnings of $1.03 a share in the three months ended March 31, compared with a loss $6.8 million, or 5 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose to $90.5 million from $13.2 million.

The results follow similar news this month from most companies pulling gas from the Marcellus and Utica. Drillers credited increased production from more wells and better prices during cold weather for big jumps in profits over last year.

Since going public in January at $21 per share, Rice's stock has surged on investor optimism about the drilling industry. The stock closed up $1.65, or 5.72 percent, at $30.49.

“Our development is on time and on budget, and continues to generate really good results,” Rice CEO Daniel J. Rice IV said during a conference call with analysts.

The company disclosed on Tuesday that it bought out joint-venture partner Alpha Natural Resources Inc. at the same time it went public in January, a deal that helped boost its bottom line. It resulted in a onetime gain of $203 million in the quarter.

The federal Energy Information Administration this week predicted continued increases in Marcellus gas production through at least June.

Rice officials said they would continue growing production in the Marcellus while exploring several wells in the deeper Utica shale in Ohio. The company increased gas production by 135 percent and brought several wells online in the first quarter.

David Conti is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5802 or

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