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Chevron Corp. (CVX) said first-quarter net income rose 4.2% as higher oil prices boosted profits from its exploration and production arm, and refining margins improved.
Chevron reported a profit of $6.47 billion, or $3.27 a share, up from $6.21 billion, or $3.09 a share, a year earlier. The latest period included net charges of $504 million, compared with $388 million a year earlier. The results came relatively in line with analysts' expectations of $3.26 a share.
Revenue edged up 0.6% to $60.71 billion.
Chevron became the only U.S. major oil company to post higher quarterly earnings compared with a year ago after rivals Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP) had profits drop despite higher crude prices.
Chevron's results benefited from higher exposure to climbing crude prices and less vulnerability to depressed U.S. natural-gas prices than Exxon and Conoco, said Alan Good, an analyst with Morningstar.
Chevron, however, echoed the trend of lower production reported by Exxon and Conoco, showing the sector's bigwigs continue to struggle to increase their output as their fields deplete and access to new resources remains a challenge. Chevron's output slipped 4.7%. to 2.63 millions barrels of oil equivalent per day as production increases from project in Thailand and the U.S. were more than offset by normal field declines, maintenance-related downtime and dispositions, the company said.
Chevron's exploration-and-production earnings rose 3.2% to $6.17 billion, helped by higher crude-oil realizations. The average price at which Chevron sold its international oil production was $110 per barrel, up from $95 a year earlier. The average international price of natural gas was $5.88 per thousand cubic feet, compared with $5.03 in last year's first quarter.
In the U.S., Chevron's average sales price for oil was $102 per barrel, up from $89 a year ago and $2.48 per thousand cubic feet for natural gas, compared with $4.04 in last year's first quarter.
Chevron's refining, marketing and chemical operations, or downstream operations, saw earnings jump 29% to $804 million as the segment benefited from gains on asset sales. The company said lower refined product margins were offset by favorable derivative effects.
The company said it spent $1.25 billion in share repurchases in the first quarter, unchanged from last year.
Shares of San Ramon, Calf.-based Chevron were 3 cents down at $ 106.19
-By Isabel Ordonez, Dow Jones Newswires; 713-547-9207; email@example.com
--Nathalie Tadena in New York contributed to this report