Updated from 2:50 a.m. EDT

BP PLC ( BP) said Tuesday first-quarter earnings fell 64% to $2.56 billion from $7.09 billion a year, beating analysts' forecasts as oil prices recovered modestly and the company's refining and marketing business bounced back.

The first quarter profit was ahead of the analysts' consensus of $2.2 billion.

In the first quarter of 2008, oil traded as high as $111.80 a barrel. It is currently selling for around $50 a barrel.

Replacement cost profit in the quarter fell 62% to $2.39 billion from $6.23 billion a year earlier.

Revenue at Europe's second largest oil company by market value fell in the quarter to $47.3 billion from $87.7 billion.

The company's exploration and production operations reported pretax replacement cost profit of $4.32 billion, a decrease of 57% from a year earlier, on lower realizations and lower earnings from equity-accounted entities, primarily Russian oil company TNK-BP.

The company will pay a dividend in June of 14 cents a share, up from 13.525 cents a year earlier.

BP said pretax profit from refining and marketing was $1.4 billion, versus a loss of $8.1 billion in the fourth quarter.

"U.S. refining margins returned to a modest premium relative to other regions and the unusual adverse impacts from prior-month pricing of domestic pipeline barrels, that impacted our fourth-quarter results, were not repeated," the company said.
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