Oil refiner Valero Energy ( VLO) posted an 18% jump in first-quarter earnings, beating analysts' expectations.

The company said profit reached $309 million, or 59 cents a share, up from $261 million, or 48 cents, in the year-ago period. Analysts forecast earnings of 50 cents a share.

Revenue dropped 51% to $13.82 billion as the demand for energy nosedived during the first three months of the year.

Valero said the decrease in demand was offset by improved refining margins and lower oil prices.

According to an article two weeks ago on BullishBankers.com, refiners are the most neglected subsector on the S&P 500. While investors are typically advised to avoid refiners because their business model is difficult to understand, the analysis cites the potential, in this market, to score quick profits off a properly timed play on refiners.

Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

More from Earnings

Financing History: How Citigroup Grew Into a Banking Powerhouse

Financing History: How Citigroup Grew Into a Banking Powerhouse

How to Handle Market Volatility According to This Financial Adviser

How to Handle Market Volatility According to This Financial Adviser

How to Start Investing at Any Age

How to Start Investing at Any Age

There Is No 'Smoking Gun' With Blue Apron

There Is No 'Smoking Gun' With Blue Apron

What the Government Shutdown Means for Retail

What the Government Shutdown Means for Retail