updated 5/5/2005 4:49:35 PM ET 2005-05-05T20:49:35

Oil refiner and marketer Sunoco Inc. said Thursday that its first-quarter earnings rose 30 percent from last year, led by higher chemicals profit and lower financing expenses, but results missed Wall Street expectations by a wide margin.

Net income grew to $116 million, or $1.67 per share, from $89 million, or $1.17 per share, a year ago. Total revenue surged to $7.21 billion from $5.25 billion last year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for the company to post earnings of $1.90 per share in the latest quarter.

Sunoco said its refining and supply segment earned $108 million in the current quarter, up from $100 million last year, due to higher realized margins and production volumes which were partially offset by increased fuel and other energy costs.

The company’s retail marketing division had a loss of $8 million in the first quarter, compared with a loss of $4 million last year, due largely to lower retail margins for gasoline and distillate that were partially offset by lower expenses.

Sunoco’s chemicals segment earned $33 million, nearly triple last year’s profit of $12 million, as a result of higher realized margins for phenol and polypropylene.

Shares of Sunoco rose $1.89 to close at $100.09 in Thursday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, where they have traded in a 52-week range of $58.26 to $109.87.

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