ConocoPhillips 4Q earnings jump 54 percent

Associated Press
A sign is displayed outside the ConocoPhillips corporate headquarters Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, in Houston. ConocoPhillips said Wednesday, Jan. 26, its fourth-quarter earnings jumped 54 percent despite a drop in production as crude prices increased. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
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ConocoPhillips said Wednesday its fourth-quarter net income jumped 54 percent as oil prices increased and its refining operations turned a profit.

The Houston company, reported net income of $2 billion, or $1.39 per share, for the final three months of 2010. That compares with $1.3 billion, or 86 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue grew 22 percent to $53.2 billion.

Excluding special items, Conoco said it earned $1.9 billion, or $1.32 per share, in the period.

Analysts, which typically exclude special items, expected earnings of $1.29 per share on revenue of $47.3 billion, according to FactSet.

Conoco cut back on oil production in the quarter by 5 percent to 1.73 million barrels of oil and gas. The drop was mainly due to weaker yields from mature oil fields in North America and Europe. Conoco also sold off some of its oil-producing assets in the period.

Higher oil prices offset the decline in output. Crude oil and natural gas liquids prices increased 14.5 percent to an average of $78.76 per barrel in the quarter.

Conoco's refineries also produced more fuel and profit margins jumped in the quarter. They earned $207 million in the fourth quarter compared with a loss of $215 million a year ago.

The chemicals business more than doubled profits to $118 million in the quarter.

Conoco shares rose $1.64, or 2.4 percent, to $69.11 in morning trading.

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