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Valero Energy returns to profit in 1st quarter

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Valero Energy returned to a profit in the first quarter, free of a large impairment charge that weighed down its year-ago results.

The results beat analysts' expectations, and its stock climbed before the market opened Tuesday.

The refinery operator, which sells gasoline under the Valero and Diamond Shamrock brands, earned $654 million, or $1.18 per share, for the period ended March 31. That compares with a loss of $432 million, or 78 cents per share, a year ago.

The prior-year period included an asset impairment charge of $1.09 per share, mostly related to a refinery in Aruba.

Operating revenue fell to $33.47 billion from $35.17 billion.

Analysts forecast earnings of 98 cents per share on revenue of $30.41 billion, according to FactSet.

Valero Energy Corp. said it's moving forward on the spinoff of its retail business. The San Antonio company plans to distribute 80 percent of the outstanding shares of the new company — called CST Brands — to Valero stockholders on Wednesday. Shares of CST Brands are expected to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the "CST" ticker symbol on Thursday.

Valero Energy rose $1.55, or 3.8 percent, to $42.75 in premarket trading.