updated 1/28/2005 12:48:21 PM ET 2005-01-28T17:48:21

ChevronTexaco Corp.’s fourth-quarter profit doubled, continuing the most successful run in the oil giant’s 125-year history.

The San Ramon-based company said Friday that it earned $3.4 billion, or $1.63 per share, during the final three months of last year. That compared to net income of $1.7 billion, or 82 cents per share, during the same period in 2003.

Revenue for the quarter totaled $42.7 billion, a 41 percent increase from $30.3 billion in the previous year.

The earnings per share easily exceeded the mean estimate of $1.40 per share among analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

ChevronTexaco’s shares gained a penny to $54.07 during Friday’s early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

For the entire year, ChevronTexaco earned $13.3 billion, or $6.28 per share, on revenue of $155.3 billion. The company has never had a more profitable year since its inception in 1879.

In 2003, ChevronTexaco earned $7.2 billion, or $3.48 per share, on revenue of $121.3 billion.

Like the rest of its industry, ChevronTexaco has been cashing in on soaring crude oil prices that have been squeezing household budgets across the country as gasoline prices soared well above $2 per gallon earlier in the year.

ChevronTexaco has been particularly well positioned to capitalize on the situation because it’s a market leader in California, where gasoline prices climbed far above the national average.

The company’s division that sells gasoline in the U.S. market made $372 million in the fourth quarter, nearly five times more than the $77 million earned during the same 2003 period. ChevronTexaco attributed most of the robust gains to hefty profit margins on the West Coast.

As usual, ChevronTexaco made most of its money from the exploration and production of crude oil throughout the world. Those operations accounted for $2.3 billion of its fourth quarter profit, up 43 percent from earned $1.56 billion in the previous year.

ChevronTexaco fetched an average price of $38 per barrel for crude oil during the fourth quarter, a 40 percent increase from the prior year.

Although oil prices have dropped from their peaks of a few months ago, ChevronTexaco David O’Reilly said he remained confident the company can continue producing big returns for investors. ChevronTexaco’s stock climbed 22 percent last year, outperforming the market’s major indexes.

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