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Hurricanes Hammer BP

The company warns that retail margins are under pressure.
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posted a hefty third-quarter profit but warned that volatile energy prices are punishing retail gasoline margins.

For the third quarter, the company made $6.46 billion, or $1.26 an American depositary share, up from the year-ago $4.82 billion, or $1.05 a share. Revenue rose to $97.7 billion from $66.7 billion.

"The recent hurricanes in the U.S. have impacted our results. However, underlying performance is strong, amplified by high but volatile prices of oil, gas and products," said Chief Executive Lord Browne.

"Average global refining margins reached a record $12.35/bbl in the third quarter. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused extensive damage to refining facilities in the U.S. Gulf ... Oil product stocks and anticipated recoveries in refining capacity generally are adequate to meet current demand but the situation remains finely balanced and vulnerable to further disruptions or a colder than normal winter. Therefore, refining margins are likely to remain high during the fourth quarter," Browne said. "During the third quarter, retail margins have been impacted negatively by high and rising product prices. As the fourth quarter opens, some easing in wholesale gasoline prices is evident. However, significant uncertainty exists about the strength of the consequent margin recovery and the outlook for marketing margins remains highly volatile."

BP was set to open Tuesday at $64.65.