updated 10/27/2006 9:27:27 AM ET 2006-10-27T13:27:27

Chevron Corp.'s third-quarter profit soared to $5 billion to easily surpass analysts' estimates, continuing the prosperous times in the oil industry.

The results, announced early Friday, marked the first time the San Ramon-based company's quarterly earnings have surpassed $5 billion in its 127-year history. It's also the third time in the past year that Chevron's quarterly profit has hit a new high.

Chevron benefited from higher oil prices and increased profit margins in its refining business.

The earnings of $5.02 billion, or $2.29 per share, for the three-months ended in September represented a 40 percent increase from net income of $3.59 billion, or $1.64 per share, at the same time last year. The results last year would have been higher if damage caused by Hurricane Katrina hadn't forced Chevron to curtail production.

Chevron boosted its earnings despite a slight decline in its revenue, which totaled $54.2 billion. That was down from $54.5 billion last year.

The earnings exceeded the average estimate of $2.03 per share among analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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