(Compares with analysts' estimate, adds detail, share movement)
Feb 2 (Reuters) - U.S. refiner Phillips 66 on Friday beat analysts' quarterly profit estimates, largely helped by higher refining margins.
The company said realized refining margins rose to $8.98 per barrel in the fourth quarter, from $6.47 a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.07 per share, beating analysts' average estimate of 86 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Phillips 66's profit surged in the quarter as the refiner benefited from a $2.74 billion gain due to the recent changes in the U.S. tax law.
Refiners are likely to outshine other energy segments in 2018 as they benefit from a surge in U.S. oil production and rack up among the biggest gains from the recent corporate tax cuts, analysts said ahead of the earnings season.
Smaller rivals Valero Energy Corp and Marathon Petroleum Corp reported better-than-expected earnings on Thursday and said they expected strong global economic growth to spur demand for oil in 2018.
Phillips 66's consolidated earnings rose to $3.2 billion, or $6.25 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 from $163 million, or 31 cents per share, a year earlier.
The company's shares were marginally up in light premarket trade on Friday.
(Reporting by Taenaz Shakir in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)