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Why Penn West Petroleum Shares Plunged

Although we don’t believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes — just in case they’re material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Penn West Petroleum Ltd (TSX:PWT, NYSE:PWE) sank 10% today after the oil and natural producer’s Q4 update disappointed Bay Street.

So what: The stock has plunged in recent months on skepticism over management’s turnaround initiatives, and today’s Q4 update only reinforces those worries. While Penn West announced yet another “non-core” asset disposition for expected proceeds of $175 million, downbeat production guidance for 2014 suggests that a return to profitable growth will take much longer than expected.

Now what: Management now sees 2014 production of 101,000-106,000 boe per day, down from its prior view of 105,000-110,000 boe per day. “With a solid fourth quarter 2013 development program completed, Penn West is actively executing on its first quarter 2014 development programs with a total of $230 million of capital expenditures expected,” the company reassured investors.

“In the first quarter, 2014 Penn West has 3 rigs operating in the Cardium forecast to drill 15 (13 net) wells, 4 rigs operating in the Slave Point area forecast to drill 9 (9 net) wells, and 1 rig operating in the Viking forecast to drill 9 (9 net) wells.” Given Penn West’s worrisome production trend and asset sale-uncertainty, however, I’ll take fellow Fool Matt DiLallo’s suggestion to just watch from the sidelines.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned.

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