Chevron Posts Surprise Q4 Loss

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Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 results before markets opened Friday. For the quarter, the oil and gas supermajor posted a diluted earnings per share loss of $0.31 on revenues of $29.25 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.85 on revenues of $46.09 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.46 and $28.72 billion in revenues.

For the full year, Chevron reported earnings per share (EPS) of $2.45 and revenues of $129.93 billion, compared with 2014 EPS of $10.14 and revenues of $211.97 billion. Analysts had expected EPS of $3.47 and revenues of $132.59 billion.

Capital spending totaled $34 billion in 2015, down from $40.3 billion in 2014. Chevron announced in October that it expects 2016 capex in a range of $25 billion to $28 billion and further reductions for 2017 and 2018 to a spending range of $20 billion to $24 billion.

U.S. upstream operations posted a loss of $1.95 billion in the fourth quarter, and for the year U.S. upstream operations have lost $4 billion. Chevron attributed the loss to lower crude oil realizations, higher depreciation expenses, higher exploration expenses and lower gains on asset sales, partially offset by higher crude oil production. The increase in depreciation and exploration expenses was primarily due to impairments and project cancellations.

The company’s average U.S. sales price per barrel of crude oil was $38.14 in the quarter and realizations on natural gas liquids totaled $35.33, down from $70.82 and $65.83, respectively, in the year-ago quarter. The realized average natural gas price dropped from $3.34 per thousand cubic feet to $1.54 year over year.


CEO John Watson said:

We’re taking significant action to improve earnings and cash flow in this low price environment. Operating expenses and capital spending were reduced $9 billion in 2015 from 2014, and I expect similarly large reductions again in 2016. In addition, asset sales proceeds were $6 billion in 2015, with additional sales planned for 2016 and 2017.

Improved refinery reliability allowed us to capture the benefits of a favorable margin environment and post excellent downstream results for the year.

Gulf Coast refining margins rose from $14.40 in the fourth quarter of 2014 to $15.78 in the December 2015 quarter. West Coast margins rose from $14.63 to $23.84. Refining income, however, fell from $889 million in the year-ago quarter to $496 million. For the year, refining income totaled $3.18 billion, up from $2.64 billion in 2014.

Net domestic oil-equivalent production rose 7% (46,000 barrels per day) to 719,000 barrels a day. Net liquids production was up 8% to 499,000 barrels a day.

The company’s international upstream group posted earnings of $593 million, compared with $2.24 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014. That includes a net benefit of $91 million from foreign currency effects.

The earnings announcement did not include guidance, but consensus estimates for the first of 2016 quarter call for EPS of $0.11 on revenues of $23.22 billion. For the full year, EPS and revenues are estimated at $1.87 and $113.3 billion, respectively.

Total impairments and charges for the quarter came to $238 million, down from $720 million in the same period last year. For the full year impairments and charges totaled $1.05 billion, down from $1.99 billion in 2014.

Chevron’s shares traded down more than 2% early Friday, at $84.03 in a 52-week range of $69.58 to $112.93. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of $95.09 before the report.