Phillips 66, the largest U.S. refiner by market value, said first-quarter profit rose on earnings from shipping and processing natural gas from booming North American shale and the sale of a specialty unit.
Net income climbed to $1.57 billion, or $2.67 a share, from $1.41 billion, or $2.23, a year earlier, the Houston-based company said in a statement today. Excluding one-time items, per-share profit exceeded the $1.35 average of 15 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue fell 2.3percent to $40 billion.
Earnings for Phillips 66’s refining segment fell to $306 million from $904 million a year ago on lower volumes due to maintenance activity in the Gulf Coast and narrowing spreads in U.S. versus international benchmark oil prices. The company raked in profits a year ago from refining as the gap between West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude prices averaged $18.13 for the first three months of 2013.
“The real positive read-through was that the improvement really came from midstream and chemicals,” said Rob Desai, an analyst for Edward Jones in St. Louis, who has a hold rating on Phillips 66. “They’re higher return, little more stable type businesses so to the extent that those businesses can really grow and show that, I think that can be a positive.”
Earnings from its gas-shipment unit climbed 69 percent to $188 million from a year ago on higher throughput fees and railcar rates, according to the statement. Profit from chemicals rose 12 percent to $315 million.
Phillips 66, which was spun off from ConocoPhillips in 2012, also reported a gain of $706 million from the sale of Phillips Specialty Products Inc. to Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Phillips 66 fell 0.6 percent to $83.22 at the close in New York. The shares have 13 buy and eight hold recommendations from analysts.