updated 4/29/2005 9:18:45 AM ET 2005-04-29T13:18:45

ChevronTexaco Corp. said Friday its profit rose slightly in the first quarter, but less than what Wall Street expected, as soaring prices for crude oil and natural gas were somewhat offset by a drop-off in refining and marketing results.

ChevronTexaco, the second largest oil company in the country, said first-quarter income grew 4 percent to $2.68 billion, or $1.28 per share, from $2.56 billion, or $1.20 per share, the year before. The company’s earnings, however, missed the average analyst estimate of $1.38 per share, according to a survey by Thomson Financial.

Revenue totaled $41.61 billion, which was 24 percent greater than $33.65 billion a year earlier, ChevronTexaco said.

The company noted that sharply higher oil and gas prices gave a 20 percent lift to earnings from exploration and production — known in the industry as “upstream” operations — despite a 7 percent decrease in worldwide output, on an oil-equivalent basis.

Meanwhile, earnings from downstream activities — refining, marketing and transportation — dropped 4 percent as downtime at several plants thinned its profit margin.

“Quarterly profits for our upstream operations again benefited from strong prices for both crude oil and natural gas,” Chairman and Chief Executive Dave O’Reilly said. “Our downstream earnings in the quarter, however, were adversely affected by the impacts of planned and unplanned downtime at several of our refineries.”

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