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Imperial Quarterly Profit Rises on Record Refining Margins

Imperial Oil Ltd., the Canadian company that’s 70 percent-owned by Exxon Mobil Corp., said first-quarter profit rose 30 percent, helped by rising oil prices and record refining profit.

Net income rose to C$1.02 billion ($1.04 billion), or C$1.19 per share, from C$781 million, or 91 cents, a year earlier, the Calgary-based company said in a statement today. Excluding a gain from an asset sale and other one-time items, per-share profit was 16 Canadian cents more than the average of 11 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Downstream net income surged 65 percent to an all-time record of C$455 million, mostly because of Imperial’s ability to process heavily discounted Western Canadian crudes, according to the statement. Average output at Imperial fell 6.8 percent to the equivalent of 289,000 barrels from a year earlier, while sales rose 9.6 percent to C$7.53 billion.

Imperial, like other producers, benefited from an increase in the price of crude, which traded at an average $103.03 a barrel in New York during the first three months of the year, 8.9 percent more than a year earlier.

Imperial expects its Kearl oil-sands project to begin operating in late 2012. The project is expected to have initial capacity to produce 110,000 barrels a day, rising to 345,000 barrels by the end of this decade, according to the company’s website.

Imperial rose 0.2 percent to C$45.34 at the close in Toronto. The stock has five buy, nine hold and two sell ratings from analysts.

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