Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) posted a fourth-quarter loss of $6.6 billion versus earnings of $3.7 billion for the same period of 2018, on the back of massive write-offs of $10.4 billion predominantly in its U.S. shale gas assets.
Chevron’s quarterly loss, which was the steepest in a decade, did not surprise analysts and Wall Street because the U.S. supermajor had already announced the write-off and impairment charges a month and a half ago. The write-offs were mostly attributed to the continuously depressed U.S. natural gas prices.
However, Chevron’s total earnings per share excluding special items—the write-offs—and foreign currency effects, slightly beat analyst expectations.
Total per-share earnings excluding special items and FX effects stood at $1.49 in the fourth quarter of 2019, down from EPS of $1.95 in 2018, but above analyst estimates of $1.47 compiled by the Wall Street Journal.
Total revenues, however, missed analyst expectations. Chevron’s revenues in the fourth quarter of 2019 slipped to $36.35 billion, from $42.352 billion in the year-ago period, and were below the $38.639 billion revenues expected by Refinitiv.
Cash flow from operations in 2019 fell to $27.3 billion from $30.6 billion in 2018.
On the production side, Chevron achieved record annual net oil-equivalent production of 3.06 million barrels per day, with Chevron’s CEO Michael Wirth commenting that “for the first time in the company’s history, annual production exceeded 3 million barrels per day of oil equivalent.”
In the fourth quarter, unconventional net oil-equivalent production in the Permian Basin stood at 514,000 barrels per day, representing growth of 36 percent compared to a year ago, Chevron said.
In the downstream, Chevron’s Q4 earnings grew in the United States thanks to higher margins on refined product sales and lower operating expenses. Internationally, Chevron’s downstream earnings declined to $184 million in Q4 2019, from $603 million a year earlier, largely due to lower margins on refined product sales.
After the results release, Chevron’s shares slumped at market opening and were down nearly 3 percent at 09:45 a.m. EDT.