27 abril 2007

Valero earnings beat Wall Street, ups buybacks

Leading U.S. refiner Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) posted higher-than-expected quarterly earnings on Thursday and raised its share buyback program this year to $6 billion from $2 billion.

Stronger refining margins lifted the San Antonio-based company's net income to $1.1 billion, or $1.86 per share, from $849 million or $1.32 a share, a year earlier.

On average, analysts had expected first-quarter earnings to be $1.80 per share, according to data compiled by Reuters Estimates.

Valero Chairman and Chief Executive Bill Klesse said at the company's annual meeting the first quarter results were the best in the company's history and come on top on a record year in 2006 for the San Antonio-based refiner.

"This year's shaping up so that it could be better than 2006," Klesse said.

As part of the expanded share repurchase program, Valero entered an accelerated share repurchase program with JP Morgan that includes an upfront payment $3 billion, Valero said.

Revenues in the quarter slipped to $19.7 billion from $20.9 billion a year ago.

Valero also said final bids to buy its Lima, Ohio, refinery were received late last week, and the company expects to announce a definitive agreement in the next few weeks.

Klesse declined to discuss the bids in detail beyond saying there were several bidders on the refinery and Valero could make an announcement within two weeks on the sale.

Klesse told reporters following the meeting that Valero will look at other refineries for possible sale after concluding the Lima agreement.

Valero has added a vice president to oversee process safety at the company's 18 North American refineries as a result of findings in the investigations of a deadly 2005 explosion at BP Plc.'s Texas City, Texas, refinery.

The company's 170,000 barrel per day (bpd) McKee refinery is Sunray, Texas, is expected to reach 150,000 bpd in output by the end of the second quarter after being shut for two months by a Feb. 16 fire.

Mi comentario: Problemas diversos en muchas refinerías (tanto de Valero como de otros) han reducido la oferta y han conseguido que los margenes de refino se situen en máximos. La empresa gana mucho, incluso a pesar de la caída de ingresos... o mejor dicho, precisamente gracias a dicha caída: venden menos, pero con un margen mucho mayor.

El comentario del presidente es muy positivo: creen que 2007 podría ser mejor que 2006!! Hay que recordar que no es eso lo que el mercado descuenta, pues en el 2006 se ganaron $8.64 por acción, y para este año la media de estimaciones está en $7.88, así que si acierta, la cotización todavía tendría bastante recorrido al alza.


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