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Chevron says profit should top 4th-quarter levels

Reuters: Chevron says profit should top 4th-quarter levels

Wed Apr 9, 2008 6:18pm

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Chevron Corp (CVX.N: Quote, Profile, Research) should post higher first-quarter earnings than the previous quarter as record oil prices outweighed weak margins from refining and marketing, according to a report issued by the second-largest U.S. oil company on Wednesday.

Chevron said its oil and gas production in January and February was 2.61 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, basically flat with the fourth quarter, as higher international natural gas output offset shortfalls for oil.

Benchmark oil prices averaged a record of about $98 a barrel in the quarter, driving higher first-quarter earnings from Chevron’s exploration and production business. But it said profits from its refining and marketing business “are expected to remain at the low level recorded” in the fourth quarter.

Chevron earned $4.88 billion, or $2.32 a share, in the fourth quarter, but its profits from refining, marketing and transportation were off close to 80 percent at $204 million.

The company earned $4.84 billion from its exploration and production unit during the period.

Analysts, on average, expect the company to earn about $2.36 per share in the first quarter, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company said its average realized price for a barrel of oil sold in the U.S. in January and February rose over 6 percent from the fourth quarter to $86.74. That compares to an average price of $51.60 per barrel in the year-earlier quarter.

Its international price for crude in those months rose to $83.36 per barrel from $80.43 per barrel in the fourth quarter.

Chevron’s U.S. natural gas prices for that period were up more than 15 percent from the previous quarter, while international natural gas prices rose 13 percent.

Its realized margins in the first quarter are expected to be lower than industry indicator margins due to refinery downtime and high crude oil prices, Chevron said.

(Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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