Higher gas and oil prices may have gouged truck drivers and homeowners in 2000, but they did wonders for

Sunoco

(SUN) - Get Sunoco LP Report

, which earned $1.58 a share in the fourth quarter.

The independent petroleum refiner easily beat the consensus forecast of 17 analysts polled by

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First Call/Thomson Financial

, who expected Sunoco to earn $1.20 a share. In the year-ago quarter, Sunoco reported earnings of 18 cents a share.

The company, which is based in Philadelphia, reported revenue of $3.74 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $3.11 billion the prior year. Sunoco said the high demand brought on by the colder winter, especially in the Northeast, juiced the company's profits for the quarter and the entire year.

Sunoco inched up 6 cents, or 0.2%, to $29.75 in recent

New York Stock Exchange

trading.