By San Francisco Business Times

Chevron Corp. on Friday reported a 72 percent increase in its fourth-quarter earnings, helped by rising crude prices and refined products.San Ramon-based Chevron (NYSE: CVX) posted fourth-quarter net income of $5.3 billion, or $2.64 cents per share, up from net income of $3 billion, or $1.53 per share, in the same period last year.Chevron's revenue for the quarter was $51.9 billion, up from $47.6 billion a year earlier.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial Network were expecting earnings of $2.40 per share on $55.97 billion in revenue.

Earnings from Chevron's upsteam business, which includes exploration and production, were down 13 percent in the United Sates, to $930 million. The segment was up 27 percent, to $3.9 billion, internationally.

The company's downstream business, which includes refineries, had a profit of $475 million compared with a $333 million loss in the same period last year. Globally the segment had a $267 million profit compared with $340 million loss in the year-ago period.

⿿Earnings and cash flow increased significantly in 2010 as a result of higher prices for crude oil, higher net oil-equivalent production and improved refined product sales margins," Chevron chairman and CEO John Watson, said in a statement. "From an operating perspective, safety results were world-class, net oil-equivalent production for the year came in above target, and refinery reliability was strong.⿝

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