Why Chevron Earnings Disappointed Investors

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Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) reported second-quarter 2017 results before markets opened Friday. The oil and gas supermajor posted a diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.77 on total revenues of $34.48 billion. Operating revenues totaled $32.87 billion in the quarter, up from $27.84 billion in the year-ago quarter. In the same period a year ago, the company reported a net loss per share of $0.78 on total revenues of $29.28 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $0.87 and $32.67 billion in revenues.

Net income for the quarter totaled $1.47 billion, compared with a loss of $1.47 billion in the second quarter of 2016. The U.S. upstream segment posted a net loss of $102 million, compared with a net loss of $1.11 billion in the year-ago quarter. International upstream posted a profit of $955 million, compared with a loss of $1.35 billion last year.

The increase in international earnings was attributed to lower impairment charges, partially offset by higher depreciation expenses from increased production. The improvement also included lower tax items, higher natural gas sales volumes, higher crude oil realizations and volumes and lower operating expenses. Foreign exchange effects nicked $4 million from results.

Net oil-equivalent production in the first quarter totaled 2.78 million barrels a day, up by 252,000 barrels a day compared with the year-ago quarter. Net oil-equivalent production in the United States totaled 530,000 barrels a day, up by 29,000 year over year. However, the average realized price per liquids barrel rose from $36 last year to $41 in the second quarter of this year. Natural gas realizations rose from $1.21 per thousand cubic feet to $2.32.

The big anchor on second-quarter results compared with the first quarter was the realized price per barrel. In the first quarter, prices were $28 a barrel higher year over year, compared with $5 increase in the second quarter. Chevron produced more barrels but not enough to put a massive charge into earnings.

CEO John Watson said:

Second quarter results improved substantially from a year ago and year-to-date net cash flow is positive. We’re delivering higher production with lower capital and operating expenditures. Oil and gas production was up 10 percent in the second quarter from a year ago. Our Gorgon LNG Project in Australia closed the quarter running above nameplate capacity and we had record production from our shale and tight resource in the Permian Basin. First production from the Wheatstone LNG Project is expected next month. Operating expenses were down 10 percent and capital spending was down 25 percent in the first six months of the year versus 2016

The earnings announcement did not include guidance, but consensus estimates for the third quarter of 2017 call for $0.85 EPS on revenues of $33.72 billion. For the full year, earnings and revenues are estimated at $3.74 per share and $133.71 billion, respectively.

Yet, Chevron’s shares traded up about 1.5% early Friday’s to $107.67, in a 52-week range of $97.53 to $119.00. The consensus 12-month price target was $116.24 before this morning’s report.