Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. energy company, said fourth-quarter profit increased 41 percent to a record $7.25 billion as it reported stronger refining results and a gain from an Australian natural gas field swap.
Net income rose to $3.70 a share from $2.58, or $5.12 billion, a year earlier, the San Ramon, California-based company said in a statement today. Chevron was expected to report per-share profit of $3.06, based on the average of 19 analysts’ estimate compiled by Bloomberg. Sales fell 3 percent to $56.3 billion.
Chevron’s refining segment returned to profit from a loss a year earlier as rising supplies from U.S. shale formations lowered crude input costs and processing margins climbed 46 percent. Chevron also benefited as crude prices rose in international energy markets. About 75 percent of the company’s crude is pumped from non-U.S. wells.
Chevron Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John S. Watson plans to spend $36.7 billion this year to explore for oil, build gas export terminals and upgrade oil refineries. The company expects to reach output equivalent to 3.3 million barrels a day in 2017.
“Strong cash flows allowed us to invest aggressively in our major capital projects and to acquire several important, new resource opportunities,” Watson said. “We also raised the dividend on our common shares for the 25th consecutive year and continued our share repurchase program.”
Chevron rose 1.2 percent to $116.50 at the close in New York.
Results from oil and gas production included a gain from the exchange of a stake in the Browse gas fields in Australia for Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s interests in the Clio and Acme fields. The swap agreement also included a $450 million cash payment to Chevron. The gain contributed about $1.4 billion, or 72 cents a share, to profit, based on Bloomberg calculations.
The company’s refining and marketing business reported a $925 million profit after posting a $61 million loss during the final three months of 2011.
Oil and gas production rose 1 percent to the equivalent of 2.67 million barrels a day from 2.64 million a year earlier. Crude output, which accounts for about two-thirds of Chevron’s production, fell 1.2 percent to 1.8 million barrels a day from 1.82 million, the company said.
Chevron processed 1.62 million barrels of crude and other feedstock a day at its plants around the world during the October-to-December period, a 3.3 percent increase from 1.57 million a year earlier, according to the statement. Processing rates at the company’s U.S. refineries dropped 8 percent to 702,000 barrels a day from 763,000 a year earlier due to the lingering impact of an August fire that shut a crude unit at a California facility.
(Chevron scheduled a conference call to discuss fourth-quarter results at 11 a.m. New York time. To listen, see LIVE <GO>.)
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