October 27, 2017 / 11:43 AM / a year ago

Phillips 66 wraps up strong quarter for big U.S. refiners

(Reuters) - Phillips 66 (PSX.N) on Friday wrapped up a strong third quarter for big U.S. oil refiners that saw refining margins rise sharply in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

FILE PHOTO: The Phillips 66 gas station in Superior, Colorado, U.S., July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Hurricanes have battered Texas since late August, sapping demand for crude oil and destroying gasoline lines in various parts of the U.S. Southeast and Midwest.

Industrywide margins to produce diesel fuel rose to a more than two-and-a-half year high of $26.95 a barrel, while gasoline margins hit a two-year high in early September.

Houston-based Phillips 66’s margins to refine crude oil climbed 24 percent in the third quarter. Refining margins at smaller rivals Marathon Petroleum (MPC.N) and Valero Energy (VLO.N) also rose double-digit percentage points.

Higher refining margins have helped lift earnings for the major integrated oil companies as well.

Exxon Mobil’s (XOM.N) downstream business on Friday posted a $1 billion rise in earnings, while rival Chevron (CVX.N) said the metric helped it rake in profits.

Shares of Phillips 66, which had risen nearly 9 percent since Harvey made landfall, were down 0.6 percent at $90.61 in morning trading on Friday.

“Beyond the results, investors may be trimming refining positions as earnings momentum slows after this very strong quarter,” UBS Equities analyst Spiro Dounis, rated 5 out of 5, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine said.

Phillips 66, which also stores and transports fuels, said its consolidated earnings rose to $823 million on higher sales in its refining, chemicals and midstream units.

Adjusted earnings per share rose 54 percent to $1.66, beating the Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S estimate by 9 cents.

Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D'Couto

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