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U.S. Refiner Valero Energy Beats Profit Forecasts in Q1

One of the largest U.S. refiners, Valero Energy (NYSE: VLO), saw its adjusted net income more than halve in the first quarter compared to a year earlier, but earnings nevertheless beat the analyst consensus estimate amid tight crude supplies at the start of this year.  

Valero opened the earnings reporting season on Thursday, announcing an adjusted net income of $1.3 billion, or $3.82 per share, for Q1. This compares to $3.1 billion, or $8.27 per share, for the first quarter of 2023 when global refining margins soared as the West had just imposed embargoes and price caps on imports of Russian crude oil and refined petroleum products.

Valero’s earnings per share for Q1 2024 easily beat the analyst consensus estimate of $3.22 compiled by The Wall Street Journal. 

Tighter crude supplies and flexible operations during the refinery maintenance season in the first quarter helped Valero top earnings forecasts despite the slump in the refining margin to $3.534 billion, compared to $5.9 billion for the same period last year.

Analysts expect disruptions to global oil product flows, still strong refining margins, and lowered U.S. refinery utilization to have bolstered the quarterly earnings of American oil refiners in the first quarter of 2024. Profits are expected to be lower than in 2022 when the Russian invasion of Ukraine upended markets and pushed up refining margins, but U.S. refiners are still set to report in the coming days strong earnings for the first quarter of the year, according to analysts who spoke to Reuters earlier this week.

The lower Russian refining capacity due to Ukrainian drone attacks has pushed global refining margins higher at the start of this year and has tightened some regional fuel markets.

In addition, margins in the U.S. were also boosted by planned and unplanned outages at refineries, including the Whiting, Indiana, refinery of BP, which was shut for most of February and half of March after a power outage prompted a temporary shutdown of the facility. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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