NEW YORK(Reuters) - Chevron Corp. (CVX), the No. 2 U.S. oil company, Friday said its quarterly earnings rose 49 percent to $4 billion, topping Wall Street expectations and sparking a 2 percent rise in the stock.
The results came as U.S. consumer anger grew over high gas prices and Big Oil's gushing profits. On Thursday, Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) the world's largest publicly traded oil company reported $8.4 billion in earnings — its biggest first-quarter profit ever.
Chevron first-quarter net income increased to $1.80 per share, from $1.28 a share, or $2.7 billion, in the year-earlier period. Analysts, on average, expected a profit of $1.78 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
"The outperformance was evenly spread through the divisions, with a particularly good performance in U.S. exploration and production (higher natural gas prices) and international refining and marketing (higher margins than expected)," Credit Suisse analysts said in a research note.
Oil and gas companies are enjoying an unusually robust quarter, propelled largely by the surge in oil prices due to fears of supply disruptions and booming demand in Asia.
Chevron's oil and gas production rose 10 percent from a year earlier, largely due to the Unocal Corp. acquisition.
Chevron said it had substantially completed its acquisition of Unocal, the California oil producer it bought last summer after a bitter fight with a Chinese oil company.
The Big Oil earnings reports have triggered a now familiar wave of outrage in Washington over the industry's profit bonanza.
Responding to soaring gasoline prices, U.S. lawmakers and consumer advocates have stepped up calls for windfall taxes on oil profits and the repeal of tax breaks.
Chevron shares rose $1.28 to $61.26 on the New York Stock Exchange.