Chevron sees quarterly profits soar

NEW YORK — Chevron Corp. said today its first-quarter profit more than doubled as oil prices soared over the past year.

The San Ramon, Calif., oil company reported income of $4.55 billion, or $2.27 per share, for the first three months of the year. That compares with $1.84 billion, or 92 cents per share, in the same part of 2009.

Excluding charges associated with employee reductions in its refining, marketing and chemicals business, Chevron said it would have made $2.36 a share.

Revenue increased 33 percent to $48.18 billion.

Analysts, which typically exclude one-time charges, had expected earnings of $1.94 per share on revenue of $53.25 billion.

Like other major oil companies, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron’s results were boosted by a surge in profits from its exploration and production operation. Oil prices more than doubled, from a low of around $33 a barrel in the first quarter of 2009 to more than $80 a barrel in the first quarter of 2010.

Chevron responded by pulling more oil and natural gas out of the ground. The company increased production of oil equivalent, which includes natural gas, by 4.5 percent to 2.78 million barrels per day.

Chevron’s refining business, however, continued to struggle to pass higher crude costs along to customers. Sales of refined products dropped 8.6 percent in the quarter.

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