Valero Energy Tops Profit Estimates on Higher Gulf Coast Margins

Reuters, January 30, 2020

Independent U.S. refiner Valero Energy Corp topped Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit on Thursday, as it earned more from refining low-cost Canadian heavy crude. Refining margins in the company’s biggest segment, U.S. Gulf Coast operations, rose 16% to $1.64 billion.

Our refineries operated well at 96% utilization, allowing us to take advantage of wider sour crude oil differentials and weakness in high sulfur residual feedstocks in the fourth quarter,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joe Gorder said.

Most of the U.S. Gulf Coast refiners, including Valero, can process heavy crude to make marine fuels compliant with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) new regulations. Refiners spent heavily in 2019 to refurbish distillation units and cokers to process cheaper, heavy grade crude.

Analysts have highlighted Valero to be a major beneficiary of IMO’s low-sulfur fuel oil mandate. Excluding items, the company reported a profit of $2.13 per share beating analysts’ average estimate of $1.62, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Net income attributable to the shareholders rose to $1.1 billion, or $2.58 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $952 million, or $2.24 per share, a year earlier. The San Antonio, Texas-based company’s total revenue, however, fell 3% to $27.88 billion.

Rival Marathon Petroleum posted higher adjusted earnings on Wednesday, well-above Wall Street expectations on better-than-expected refining margins setting a positive tone for the entire sector.

(Reporting by Shradha Singh; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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