Here's David Parkinson's At The Bell which you'll find in Wednesday's newspaper: When one of Canada's energy trust heavyweights - Penn West Energy Trust - releases its third-quarter earnings this morning, investors may focus more on where the company is going than where it has been. The oil and gas sector of today barely resembles the one Penn West faced when the third quarter began in July. The last time Penn West reported its quarterly numbers, in early August, oil was $120 (U.S.) a barrel, natural gas was above $8.50 per million British thermal units and the sector was coming off a quarter of record prices. Penn West enjoyed its biggest quarter of cash flows in company history, and had just completed its third acquisition in seven months. Now, oil prices are half that. After another slide yesterday, the benchmark price for oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell below $60 a barrel for the first time in 20 months. Nymex natural gas closed yesterday at $6.70. Penn West's price has come down with them: Its trust units fell 3 per cent yesterday to close under $20, leaving them down 45 per cent from their June highs. WHAT ARE THE EXPECTATIONS? Given that the bulk of the commodity price decline has come since the third quarter ended, Penn West is still expected to post healthy numbers for the third quarter. Cash flow (the key performance metric for trusts) should come close to $700-million (Canadian), not far from the record $753-million the company posted in the second quarter. On a per-share basis, analysts surveyed by Bloomberg are looking for something in the $1.80 range. Penn West's oil and gas production could top 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the quarter, a first for the company, boosted by its acquisitions this year. And Penn West's bottom line might actually see some benefits from the fall in oil and gas prices due to its active hedging program. The company actually absorbed a loss of 86 cents a unit in the second quarter due to an $837-million loss on its oil and gas hedges, as the company locked into prices well below those of the soaring market. But with spot market prices having dramatically reversed course, Penn West's hedging program may have paid off in the third quarter - and may continue to protect the company's cash distributions going forward. Grant Hofer, energy analyst at UBS Securities Canada Inc., said he will be watching the earnings release for news on Penn West's property divestiture program.