Valero crushes earnings: I was wrong

A while back, as I scanned the wreckage of the market meltdown, the energy sector caught my attention. In particular, I noticed the refining and oil services sectors because they are not as beholden to falling prices as the Exploration and Production sectors are. My feeling was that while earnings were going to be terrible, many of these companies were going to be good value. Valero was top of my list having lost 80% of its value in the meltdown.

Well, I was wrong about the earnings because Valero knocked the ball out of the park. But what is clear is that people have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, indiscriminately selling everything. That makes for a stock picker’s dream.

Valero Energy Corporation Reports Third Quarter EarningsSAN ANTONIO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Oct. 28, 2008–Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE: VLO) today reported third quarter 2008 income from continuing operations of $1.2 billion, or $2.18 per share, which compares to $848 million, or $1.34 per share, in the third quarter of 2007. The third quarter 2008 results include the company’s pre-tax gain of $305 million on the sale of its Krotz Springs, Louisiana refinery to a subsidiary of Alon USA Energy, Inc., which was effective July 1, 2008. Excluding this gain, third quarter 2008 income from continuing operations was $982 million, or $1.86 per share. Due to long-term product supply agreements between Valero and Alon, the results of operations related to the Krotz Springs refinery have not been presented as discontinued operations.

Income from continuing operations for the nine months ended September 30, 2008, was $2.1 billion, or $4.02 per share, compared to $4.0 billion, or $6.66 per share, for the nine months ended September 30, 2007. Excluding the gain on the sale of the Krotz Springs refinery, income from continuing operations for the nine months ended September 30, 2008 was $2.0 billion, or $3.70 per share.

Third quarter 2008 operating income was $1.8 billion compared to $1.2 billion for the third quarter of 2007. Excluding the gain on the sale of the Krotz Springs refinery, the increase in operating income was mainly due to higher margins for distillate products, such as diesel and jet fuels. Partially offsetting the higher margins for distillate products was a decrease in margins for gasoline.

“As a result of our good earnings, our financial position has continued to improve,” said Bill Klesse, Valero’s Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. “At the end of the third quarter, our net debt-to-capitalization ratio was 15.8%, one of the lowest in company history. In early October, Moody’s recognized our financial strength by raising our investment-grade credit rating from Baa3 to Baa2 with a stable outlook.

MSN Money

There are a lot of companies in this same situation. That is one reason I have turned a lot more bullish.

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Edward Harrison is the founder of Credit Writedowns and a former career diplomat, investment banker and technology executive with over twenty years of business experience. He is also a regular economic and financial commentator on BBC World News, CNBC Television, Business News Network, CBC, Fox Television and RT Television. He speaks six languages and reads another five, skills he uses to provide a more global perspective. Edward holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College. Edward also writes a premium financial newsletter. Sign up here for a free trial.

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