By AP Business Writer
updated 2/2/2007 9:14:20 AM ET 2007-02-02T14:14:20

Chevron Corp.'s fourth-quarter profit dropped by nine percent, but the oil company still made enough to post its third consecutive year of record earnings.

The San Ramon-based company said Friday that it earned $3.77 billion, or $1.74 per share, during the final three months of 2006. That compared with net income of $4.14 billion, or $1.86 per share, at the same time in 2006.

It marked Chevron's first quarterly profit decline in more than a year.

Revenue for the period totaled $47.7 billion, down 11 percent from $53.8 billion in the previous year.

The earnings were a penny above the average estimate among analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

Like its industry peers, Chevron has been recently stung by a steady decline in crude oil prices, which have plunged more than $20 per barrel from their peak reached last summer.

But gasoline prices haven't not fallen as sharply, a factor that boosted Chevron's fourth-quarter profit. The company's division that refines oil and sells gasoline earned $954 million in the quarter, an 18 percent increase from the previous year.

For the full year, Chevron earned $17.1 billion to easily exceed its previous record income of $14.1 billion set in 2005. Chevron has earned more than $44 billion during the past three years _ a stretch of unprecedented prosperity for the industry, much to the consternation of many motorists and lawmakers.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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