BUSINESS

Strong refining profit at Chevron eases pain of weaker 2Q; stock price rises

07/27/2012 03:29 EDT | Updated 09/26/2012 05:12 EDT
NEW YORK, N.Y. - A soaring profit at Chevron's refineries eased some of the pain of a weaker second quarter.

The oil giant said Friday net income fell nearly 7 per cent to $7.21 billion, or $3.66 per share. But the results beat expectations thanks to a strong performance from its refinery business.

The company's stock price rose $1.18, or just over 1 per cent, to $109.04 in afternoon trading.

Like its peers, the oil giant is struggling to find and replace its sources of petroleum. The world's slowing economy has also pushed down prices for the crude it sells.

But the lower prices had benefits. Profits at Chevron's refining and marketing business rose 80 per cent. Its refineries paid less for oil while selling gasoline at higher prices on the U.S. West Coast. Pump prices there remained well above the national average last quarter because of supply problems in the region. The business also sold about $200 million in assets, including its stake in a South Korean energy business.

"They've done a good job of cutting dead weight from their portfolio," Morningstar Inc. analyst Allen Good said. "Their refining business, especially in California, was especially strong."

But the help that lower oil prices gave Chevron's refineries hurt its other business — finding and selling crude and natural gas.

Earnings from its exploration and production business fell 18 per cent to $5.62 billion. Chevron, the second-largest U.S. petroleum company behind Exxon Mobil, sold oil for lower prices in the U.S. and overseas. Natural gas fetched only half as much in the U.S. as it did a year earlier. Production from its global network of oil and natural gas wells declined 2.6 per cent.

Profits also fell in the second quarter for Royal Dutch Shell, Occidental Petroleum Corp. and ConocoPhillips. Exxon Mobil profits rose, but that was due to a big one-time gain from the sale of Japanese assets. BP reports its second-quarter financial results next week.