ConocoPhillips Earnings Rise on Soaring Oil Prices

ConocoPhillips, the No. 3 U.S. oil company, posted higher fourth-quarter earnings, beating Wall Street expectations on record oil prices.

Still, its shares were down about 2 percent as lower oil prices and fears of a recession weighed on the shares of the entire oil industry.

ConocoPhillips said net income rose to $4.37 billion, or $2.71 a share, from $3.2 billion, or $1.91 a share, a year earlier.

Analysts said the results included one-time items that boosted earnings by $375 million, or 23 cents a share.

Excluding those items, the company earned about $2.48 a share, topping analysts' average forecast of $2.41, according to Reuters Estimates.

Oppenheimer analyst Fadel Gheit said Conoco's refining and marketing operations performed better than expected, despite profit margins that withered from near record levels earlier in the year.

"The refining side was a lot better than we had in mind, especially in the U.S. They operated their facilities pretty well and they had no major glitches ... It was a surprisingly strong quarter given the dismal news we've been hearing there," he said.

Revenue in the quarter rose nearly 27 percent to $52.7 billion.

Oil prices averaged more than $90 a barrel during the quarter, and nearly hit $100, due to tight supplies, geopolitical risks and the weak dollar.

Earnings at the company's exploration and production segment rose to $2.61 billion from $2.09 billion a year earlier.

Production, excluding its 20 percent stake in Russia's Lukoil, was 1.84 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd). The company expects production to average about 1.8 million boepd in the first quarter.

Profit at its refining and marketing segment rose to $1.12 billion from $919 million.

ConocoPhillips' stake in Lukoil yielded $649 million in the quarter, more than doubling the year-earlier contribution. Its share of Lukoil's production was 426,000 barrels per day, and its share of the Russian company's refining output was 227,000 barrels per day.

ConocoPhillips shares were down 56 cents to $70.62 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange after falling as low as $69.22 earlier in the session.