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Chevron's Revealing Comments

Wednesday, 10 Oct 2007 | 10:55 AM ET

Chevron's commentary last night are a tad disturbing for a couple of reasons. It's not the obvious things: they lowered earnings partly on weaker margins for refined products. This was somewhat expected, given that we knew oil prices were high and gasoline prices did not move up as much, so refiners have seen their margins squeezed.

It's the rest of the stuff that's raising eyebrows on the Street:

1) Overall crude production volumes are down (-3.5% year on year in the U.S.), and down -7.2% in international oil volumes. Normally, U.S. production is weak but international is growing for the major international companies.

As Paul Sankey at Deutsche Bank notes, "There are no start-ups and volumes are terribly weak."

2) $700M in charges, according to Deutsche Bank. That is a lot. The company, unfortunately, does not break this down, but most analysts seem to think that asset impairment charges is a factor. Another factor may be environmental remediation (like oil spills).

3) A third factor, not Chevron's fault, but typical of what's happening to oil companies, is that taxes go up. So volumes aren't growing, but taxes keep coming. More squeeze on profits.

Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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