* Q4 adj loss $0.05/shr vs est.$0.04/shr
* Q4 rev quadraples to $49.1 mln
* Shares fall 3 pct before the bell
Feb 29 (Reuters) - Magnum Hunter Resources posted a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss, hurt by a rise in exploration costs, and the company joined its peers in saying it will spend a large part of its capital budget on oil and liquids drilling.
Shares of the company fell 3 percent in premarket trading.
The Houston-based company, which set a preliminary capital budget of $200 million for the year, said it will delay a majority of its high-liquid natural gas projects until later in the year when the MarkWest Mobley liquids complex becomes operational.
Magnum Hunter entered a Marcellus gas processing initiative with MarkWest last year.
Natural gas prices, which traded at $11 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) levels three years ago, touched their lowest in a decade in January.
With falling natural gas prices, a number of Magnum Hunter’s peers, including QEP Energy and Goodrich Petroleum , are allocating a larger portion of their budgets towards oil and liquids drilling.
The company’s fourth-quarter net loss widened to $60.9 million, or 46 cents per share, from $1.9 million, or 3 cents per share, a year ago.
Excluding one-time items, the loss was 5 cents a share.
Analysts on average had expected a loss of 4 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Quarterly revenue more than quadrapled to $49.1 million, higher than market estimates of $46 million.
Exploration expense in the quarter more than doubled to $530,000.
Magnum Hunter shares closed at $7.45 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.