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Chesapeake Energy 1Q helped by higher gas prices

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -

Chesapeake Energy's net income soared in the first quarter, benefiting from higher natural gas prices and an increase in oil and natural gas liquids production.

The Oklahoma City-based natural gas company earned $374 million, or 54 cents per share, for the three months ended March 31. A year earlier it earned $15 million, or 2 cents per share.

Taking out certain items, earnings were 59 cents per share. Analysts, on average, expected 48 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 48 percent to $5.05 billion from $3.42 billion, easily beating Wall Street's estimate of $4.3 billion.

The company's realized natural gas price climbed to $3.27 per thousand cubic feet from $1.90 in the fourth quarter on colder winter temperatures and access to the New York City market.

Average production climbed 11 percent to 675,200 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Average daily oil production increased 20 percent and average daily natural gas liquids production jumped 63 percent, on an adjusted basis. Natural gas production rose 4 percent.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. boosted its full-year adjusted production forecast, citing higher-than-expected natural gas liquids volumes. It now foresees growth of 9 percent to 12 percent, up from prior guidance of 8 percent to 10 percent.

Shares of the company added 39 cents to $28.74 Wednesday morning.

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