Pioneer Natural Resources Company (NYSE:PXD) announced its results for the most recent quarter on October 31, 2012. Pioneer Natural Resources is an oil and gas exploration and production company operating in the United States, South Africa, and Tunisia.

Earnings are perhaps the single most studied number in a company's financial statements because they show a company's profitability. SEE: Earnings: Quality Means Everything

The Numbers: Both EPS and revenues failed to meet expectations as Pioneer Natural posted 13 cents per share and revenues of $695.4 million. Analysts were expecting 99 cents per share and revenues of $747.5 million. EPS fell from $2.95 per share in the year-ago quarter while revenue climbed 21.1% from the same period last year. Pioneer Natural reported net income of $19.2 million during the third quarter. This is a 94.5% decline from last year. Pioneer Natural posted a profit last quarter after reporting a net loss of $214.6 million or a loss of $1.68 per share in the prior quarter.

Management Quote: Scott Sheffield, Chairman and CEO, stated, "Our Spraberry vertical and Eagle Ford Shale plays continued to exceed production growth expectations in the third quarter. Our drilling results from the horizontal Wolfcamp Shale play are also continuing to meet expectations, and we expect this asset to significantly contribute to our production growth going forward. Our joint venture data room for the southern 200,000 acres of the play has been very active, and the data room for the Barnett Shale divestiture has just opened. We were also able to begin drilling horizontal wells on our northern acreage earlier than anticipated to appraise the potential of the horizontal Wolfcamp Shale in this area."

Looking Ahead: Analysts appear increasingly optimistic about the company's results for the next quarter. The average estimate for the fourth quarter has moved up from $1.10 a share to $1.12 over the last 30 days. Increasing earnings estimate is a positive sign about the company and it typically leads a increase in the stock price. Decreasing earnings estimates is generally a negative sign as it suggests analyst believe future earnings to be weaker than previously anticipated. For the fiscal year, the average estimate has moved down from $4.27 a share to $4.12 over the last 90 days.

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