Chevron Fourth-Quarter Profit Soars on Oil Prices

Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, Friday said its fourth-quarter earnings rose as record prices for oil outweighed relatively weak refining profits.

Net income rose to $4.88 billion, or $2.32 a share, from $3.77 billion, or $1.74 a share, last year.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn $2.30 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales in the quarter rose to $59.9 billion from $46.24 billion last year.

Oil prices averaged more than $90 a barrel during the quarter and almost hit $100 due to tight supplies, geopolitical risks and the weak dollar. They averaged just over $60 a barrel in the same period a year earlier.

Profit margins from refining were relatively weak in the quarter as gasoline prices failed to keep pace with oil prices that soared to record levels.

Chevron's earnings for its exploration and production segment rose 66 percent to $4.84 billion but profit from its refining, marketing and transportation business were off nearly 79 percent to $204 million.

Since the beginning of last year, shares of Chevron are up about 15 percent, underperforming the Chicago Board Options Exchange's oil index, which is up about 21 percent.