Sunoco Easily Tops Estimates - TheStreet

Sunoco

(SUN) - Get Report

, the country's third-largest independent oil refiner, reported Tuesday that quarterly operating income grew eight-fold on strong margins and higher oil prices.

The Philadelphia-based refining and marketing company said operating income grew to $104 million, or $1.20 per share, excluding special items. Sunoco had operating income of $13 million, or 14 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. On average, analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

had expected earnings of 91 cents per share.

Including a $134 million aftertax charge from asset sales and writedowns and employee termination costs, and a $5 million gain from an insurance claim settlement, Sunoco had a net loss of $25 million in the quarter, or a loss of 29 cents per share. Net income was $14 million, or 15 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Sunoco had sales and operating revenue of $3.7 billion in the third quarter, up 41% from $2.63 billion last year.

In a statement, Sunoco Chairman and Chief Executive John Drosdick attributed the strong revenue growth to increases in refining and retail gas margins and improved refining reliability. Earnings from Sunoco's northeast refining business grew to $62 million from $1 million in the same year-ago period. The company's Mid-America marketing and refining earnings increased from $4 million to $14 million.

Drosdick said he expected refined product margins and financial results to remain strong in the fourth quarter, as inventory levels remain low, particularly for distillates. Sunoco is in the process of completing scheduled maintenance work on its Northeast refining complex and expects to be running the facilities at maximum levels through the winter.

Shares of Sunoco closed down 56 cents, or 2%, at $28.75.