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Valero Energy 4Q profit surges on refining margins

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Refinery operator Valero Energy Corp. said Tuesday that fourth-quarter profit soared on higher refining margins, as it swapped out foreign crude for cheaper domestic oil.

Its shares rose more than 7 percent in pre-market trading.

Net income was $1.01 billion, or $1.82 per share, which included a loss of 6 cents per share from a write-down. That compared with $45 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier.

The results easily beat analysts' expectations. They forecast $1.22 per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose slightly to $34.70 billion from $34.67 billion, topping the Wall Street prediction of $31.37 billion.

Valero said income grew mainly on higher refining margins in all of its regions because of discounts for several types of crude oils. The company said it replaced imported light crude oils with cheaper domestic crudes at its Gulf Coast and Memphis, Tenn., refineries in the fourth quarter and was looking for ways to handle even more of the cheaper domestic crudes.

Valero said it was the company's highest fourth-quarter earnings per share since 2005.

Valero sells gasoline under brands including Valero and Diamond Shamrock.

In trading before the market opened, Valero shares rose $2.94, or 7.6 percent, to $41.75.