ConocoPhillips, the US’ third biggest oil and gas company, swung back to profitability in the first quarter, beating analysts’ forecasts as operating costs fell amid the downturn.
Conoco reported first-quarter earnings of $840m, or 56 cents per share, down sharply from $4.1bn, or $2.62 per share, in the year-earlier period. But, nonetheless, it was an improvement from the previous quarter.
For the 2008 fourth-quarter, Conoco reported a net loss of $31.8bn, hit by plunging commodity prices and a massive $34bn write-down on the ensuing reduction in its asset values.
In the first quarter of 2009, Conoco said lower commodity prices were partially offset by lower operating costs, lower production taxes and higher volumes.
The company’s refining and marketing segment reported first-quarter earnings of $205m, compared with adjusted earnings of $753m in the previous quarter and earnings of $520m in the first quarter of 2008.
This reflected a 70 per cent decline in worldwide marketing margins, in addition to lower volumes because of increased turnaround activity in the US.
Revenues were $30.7bn, down from $54.9bn a year ago.