PetroChina Earnings Rise, Chinese Drivers Pay (PTR, COP, SNP)

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PetroChina (NYSE:PTR) is China’s largest energy company, and it’s getting bigger. The company reported quarterly earnings of $5.83 billion this morning, up 30% from the same period a year ago. Analysts polled by Reuters expected RMB34.9 billion, compared with the actual profit of RMB39.89 billion ($1.00 equals approximately RMB6.85). PetroChina’s revenues totaled about $44.45 billion.

One week ago, ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) reported quarterly net incomeof $5.19 billion on revenues of $70 billion. Year to date, Conocorealized an average price per barrel of crude oil of $107.84, onproduction of 1.764 million barrels. PetroChina had a year-to-dateaverage realized price of $97.24/b on production of 653 million b/d.

PetroChina also refines less crude than Conoco and produces lessnatural gas. Still, for the quarter and for the year, PetroChina ismaking more money than Conoco. Who knew?

Quarterly reports from Chinese companies include statements like this:"In respect of the sales of refined products,[PetroChina] strived toovercome the adverse impacts resulting from domestic refined productprices being lower than those in the international markets and naturaldisasters including cold weather and snow storms in southern areas andearthquakes in Sichuan, performed our social responsibilitiesconscientiously, modified our sales structure and strengthened ouroperation and management." While interesting, there’s not muchinformation there.

What happened is that the government raised the price of gasoline tonearly $3.75/gallon. And that won’t drop again until the governmentlets it. This price rise has boosted profits for refiners likePetroChina and Sinopec (NYSE:SNP). The government has also kicked inabout $2 billion since the beginning of the year to offset poorperformance. PetroChina’s cash flow from operations for the first ninemonths of the year is down 11% from 2007. A number like that wouldhammer the stock of a US company. PetroChina’s share price is up about2% this morning, although the price is off nearly 75% from its 52-weekhigh of $263.47.

Paul Ausick
October 29, 2008