As Profits Wither, Chevron Will Fire People, Cut Capex

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Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) reported third-quarter 2015 results before markets opened Friday. The oil and gas supermajor posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.09 on revenues of $33 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $2.95 on revenues of $52 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.76 and $29.76 billion in revenues.

U.S. upstream operations posted a loss of $603 million in the third quarter, and for the year to date, U.S. upstream operations have lost $2.1 billion. The company’s average U.S. sales price per barrel of crude oil was $45.56 in the quarter, and realizations on natural gas liquids totaled $41.98, down from $94.07 and $87.42, respectively, in the year-ago quarter. The realized average natural gas price dropped from $3.46 per thousand cubic feet to $1.96 year over year.

CEO John Watson said:

Third quarter earnings were down substantially from a year ago. While downstream earnings remained strong, lower overall earnings reflected weaker market prices for both crude oil and natural gas, which depressed upstream profitability. … We expect capital and exploratory expenditures for 2016 to be $25-28 billion, roughly 25 percent lower than this year’s budget. We expect further reductions in spending for 2017 and 2018, to the $20 to $24 billion range, depending on business conditions at the time. With the lower investment, we anticipate reducing our employee workforce by 6–7,000. We continue to make good progress on our asset sales program. In the last two years we’ve generated $11 billion in proceeds. We expect $5-10 billion in additional proceeds by the end of 2017.

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Net domestic oil-equivalent production rose 7.2% (53,000 barrels per day) to 730,000 barrels a day. Net liquids production was up 8% to 502,000 barrels a day.

The company’s international upstream group posted earnings of $662 million, compared with $3.72 billion in the third quarter of 2014. That includes a net benefit of $258 million from foreign currency effects.

Chevron’s downstream businesses fared better. In the United States, downstream profits rose from $809 million a year ago to $1.25 billion this year due primarily to higher margins as a result of lower crude prices. International upstream profits rose from $578 million a year ago to $962 million and included a net benefit of $141 million on foreign currency effects.

The earnings announcement did not include guidance, but consensus estimates for the fourth quarter call for EPS of $0.47 on revenues of $32.63 billion. For the full year, EPS and revenues are estimated at $3.19 and $132.5 billion, respectively.

Chevron’s shares opened Friday’s trading session up about 1.25%, at $91.02 in a 52-week range of $69.58 to $120.17. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $93.60 before the report.

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