Fourth quarter earnings dismal; diversity helped some firms

Low oil prices and poor industry fundamentals led to dreary fourth quarter financial results for most energy companies. An asset portfolio that included a strong emphasis on natural gas and power helped cushion the blow, with firms that operate in everything from exploration through electricity generation faring better, in general, than vertically positioned companies. Losses for the quarter were common in many industry divisions, especially among independent firms in both the upstream and downstream sectors. "Softened energy demand due to weakened economies in Asia, Russia, and South America have yielded difficult market conditions this quarter," explained Bruce A. Smith...

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