Chevron Corp. reported a fourth quarter profit on Jan. 28, which missed estimates by analysts on weaker than expected oil and gas production that outweighed gains from recovering prices.
Its shares slid in pre-market trade.
The first major oil company to report quarterly results posted adjusted earnings of $5.1 billion, or $2.65 a share. Analysts had forecast a $3.12 per share profit, Refinitiv showed, expecting a bigger boost from rebounding prices.
Chevron's oil and gas production was 3.12 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) of oil equivalent in the quarter, down 5% from a year earlier. An 181,000 bbl/d drop in international output was mostly because of the loss of an Indonesian production license.
"The miss was driven by international upstream primarily," Biraj Borkhataria, deputy head of European research at RBC Capital Markets, said. "Downstream earnings also disappointed, with weakness across both refining and chemicals."
Investors had this week pushed Chevron shares to an all-time high on expectations high oil prices would drive earnings, climbing to $135.37 on Jan. 27, a four-year high. Shares were off 3.5% to $130.64 in pre-market trading.
"A weak performance across the board," Jefferies analysts wrote, adding that a 3% contraction in year-on-year production guidance for 2022 was "also likely to disappoint."
Operating results were below analyst forecasts in its oil and gas and refining businesses, while upstream earnings were $4.15 billion, down from $5.14 billion in the third quarter.
Fourth quarter earnings from refining were $760 million, down from the $1.31 billion in the third quarter but up from a loss of $338 million a year ago.
The company said its first-quarter share buybacks would be at the higher end of the $3 billion to $5 billion annual range it had estimated last year. Chevron raised its dividend by 6% to $1.42 per share this week.
"I expect 2022 will be even better for cash returned to shareholders," CEO Michael Wirth said. "We’re more capital and cost efficient, enabling us to return more cash to shareholders."
Chevron sharply cut spending on new projects in 2020 as the pandemic took its toll, a move that helped profits soar as oil and gas prices rebounded. The benchmark oil price last quarter averaged $79 per barrel compared with $43 a year earlier.
In its oil and gas producing business, Chevron reported operating profit of $5.2 billion, up from $501 million in the same period a year ago, but below analyst expectations for about $6.6 billion operating profit.
Chevron said its international oil and gas sold for $74 a barrel, up from $40 per barrel in the same quarter last year. Worldwide net oil and gas production for the full-year 2021 was 3.1 MMbbl/d, a slight increase from a year ago.
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