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VOL. 127 | NO. 21 | Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Refinery Operator Valero Energy Posts Q4 Profit

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas (AP)Valero Energy Corp. said Tuesday that it earned a profit in the fourth quarter as new refineries helped boost revenue beyond expectations.

San Antonio-based Valero operates a refinery at 543 W. Mallory Ave.

However, operating income fell as refining margins decreased, especially in the Gulf Coast region, the company said. Because of lower margins, the operating income from a barrel of oil fell to 17 cents from $2.11 a year ago.

Margins have improved so far in 2012 and the trends for refining look "promising" based on growth in the U.S. economy and global demand, and on limited new refining capacity in Europe, the U.S. East Coast and the Caribbean, Valero added.

Valero shares rose 16 cents to $24.44 in morning trading.

Fourth-quarter net income was $45 million, or 8 cents per share, compared with a loss of $438 million, or 77 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue soared to $34.67 billion from $22.16 billion a year earlier.

Analysts expected the company to earn 8 cents per share on revenue of $31.34 billion, according to a survey by FactSet.

Operating income fell from the year-ago figure of $180 million. A year ago, the company took a loss of $610 million on the sale of a New Jersey refinery, making the comparison of net income easier this time around.

Refining volumes jumped by 523,000 barrels of oil per day in the fourth quarter, due mostly to the 2011 acquisitions of the Pembroke refinery in Wales and the Meraux refinery in Louisiana, and from its Aruba refinery, which was shut down during the fourth quarter of 2010.

The Valero's ethanol business had its best quarter ever with $181 million in operating income, up from $70 million a year earlier, as production grew and margins rose.

The retail segment, including gas stations, had operating income of $83 million, up from $61 million a year ago.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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