Continental Resources Inc posted a a fourth-quarter profit that beat market estimates by a penny due to lower expenses, and raised its forecast for spending and production in 2010.

The exploration and production company boosted its 2010 capital budget by 31 percent to $850 million to accelerate drilling in the Bakken and Anadarko Woodford plays.

For the fourth quarter, the company posted a net income of $49.5 million, or 29 cents a share, compared with $416,000, or breakeven on a per share basis, a year ago.

Revenue for the quarter jumped 53 percent to $207.6 million on higher average daily production.

Analysts, on average, were looking for earnings of 28 cents a share, before items, on revenue of $182.32 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Continental saw exploration expenses slump 79 percent in the quarter, while production expenses also fell by more than $1 to $6.71 per barrel of oil equivalent, in the period.

The company said it expects production in 2010 to rise about 13 percent, compared with its earlier expectation of a 10 percent rise. Production for 2009 was 13.6 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Continental shares closed at $38.80 Wednesday on Nasdaq.