NEW YORK -- Chevron's net income fell 4.5 percent in the first quarter as oil prices fell and refinery output fell.
Chevron, the second largest U.S. oil company, has seen better profit margins than the other energy majors in recent years because a big part of its production mix is oil, which has been fetching high prices. Rivals, such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), produce more natural gas in the U.S, where gas prices have been low.
But crude prices fell across the globe in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year, reducing Chevron's revenue and profit.
Chevron Corp. (CVX), based in San Ramon, Calif., reported Friday that net income fell to $6.18 billion, or $3.18 a share, on revenue of $56.82 billion. Last year the company earned $6.47 billion, or $3.27 a share, on revenue of $60.71 billion.
The profit exceeded analysts' average forecast of $3.09 a share. Shares rose 40 cents to $118.91 in early trading.
Chevron's production of oil and gas rose slightly in the quarter, to 2.65 million barrels per day of oil and gas from 2.63 million barrels per day.
But Chevron's average sale price for a barrel of oil slipped to $94 from $102 last year in the U.S., and to $102 from $110 abroad. Natural gas prices edged up around the world, but not enough to offset the decline in oil prices.
Performance at Chevron's refining operations slipped because of maintenance and upgrades at refineries in El Segundo, Calif. and Pascagoula, Miss. and continued repairs at its Richmond Calif. refinery in the wake of an August fire.
Refinery output fell 38 percent to 576,000 barrels per day.
Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones, said Chevron's disappointing U.S. refining results were the only "hiccup" in an otherwise solid quarter.
(Updated at 9:51 a.m. ET)