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Chevron quarterly profit tops expectations

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Chevron Corp. (CVX-N) reported a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit Friday, lifted by the sharp rise in oil prices and the sale of its stake in a pipeline company.

But the company added a modest 240 million oil-equivalent barrels to its reserves during the year, only about 24 percent of the oil it produced.

"It was an all-around good quarter, but the reserve replacement was weak," said Pavel Molchanov, analyst with Raymond James in Houston.

Profit rose to $5.3 billion US, or $2.64 per share, from $3.1 billion US, or $1.53 per share, a year before.

That easily beat the $2.41 per share that analysts had on average forecast, according to Thomson Reuters.

Revenue in the quarter rose 9 percent to $51.9 billion.

Profit from its upstream, or production arm, climbed 16 percent to $4.85 billion, while the downstream, or refining and transportation business, jumped to a $742 million profit from a year-ago loss.

Chevron is planning annual oil and gas production increases of 1 percent annually through 2014. Growth is expected to pick up to between 4 percent and 5 percent in the three years after that, but driven largely by massive Australian gas projects.

Chevron also added to its U.S. natural gas position in the fourth quarter with the announced purchase of Atlas Energy.

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