Chevron Corp. (IW 500/5) posted its first profit in a year as a recovery in energy prices halted a string of writedowns that have depressed the oil explorer’s results since late 2015.
The company’s third-quarter per-share profit of 68 cents exceeded the expectations of all 21 analysts in a Bloomberg survey.
Even as Chevron’s U.S. wells lost money, earnings from the company’s overseas oil and natural gas production edged higher. Chevron extended its 29-year streak of annual dividend increases earlier this week, a move some observers took as an optimistic signal for a profit recovery.
Chevron’s trajectory diverged from that of its bigger U.S. rival, Exxon Mobil Corp., which warned on Oct. 28 that it may be facing the biggest reserves revision in its history. Exxon’s profit tumbled for an eighth-consecutive quarter and production fell short of analysts’ expectations. Chevron’s own production miss was shrugged off by investors, who pushed the company’s stock higher by the most since March.
“The worst is over,” Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., said during an interview with Bloomberg Television on Oct. 28.
Net income was $1.28 billion, compared with $2.04 billion, or $1.09, a year earlier, the San Ramon, California-based company said. Chevron had been expected to post per-share results between 20 cents and 56 cents, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Chevron recorded almost $4 billion in asset impairments between October 2015 and last month as collapsing energy prices gutted the value of some oil and gas holdings. Since touching a 12-year low in January, the international crude benchmark price has climbed almost 80 percent, easing some of the pressure on explorers battered by the 2 1/2-year slump.
Chevron’s oil and gas output declined 1% to the equivalent of 2.51 million barrels a day, lower than the 2.54-million barrel average estimate. The company’s U.S. wells lost $212 million during the period because of lower crude prices and asset sales that dented gas production.
Chevron will spend about $8 billion this year on dividend payouts to shareholders as other cash-hungry investments take a back seat. The shares rose 3.6 percent to $103.54 at 10:40 a.m. for the biggest intraday gain since March 9.
By Joe Carroll