By Jennifer Hiller
HOUSTON (Reuters) - U.S. oil and natural gas producer Chevron Corp on Friday reported quarterly earnings that topped analysts' estimates on higher prices and production, sending shares higher in premarket trading.
Results for the San Ramon, California, company reflected a 12.5 percent increase in oil and gas production as net output added 156,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a year earlier to 3.08 million bpd. Prices paid for its crude rose to $59 a barrel in the quarter, from $57 a year earlier, the company said.
Chevron's cash flow from operations rose nearly 51 percent to $30.6 billion, reflecting the higher output and expense reduction. Investors have been pushing oil companies to restrain spending and increase returns to shareholders.
The company this week announced it would raise its dividend to $1.19 a share from $1.12 per share.
Chevron reported a profit of $3.7 billion, or $1.95 per share, compared with $3.11 billion, or $1.64 a share a year earlier Analysts' mean forecast was $1.87 a share, according to Refinitiv.
Business unit results compared to the year-ago period were lower because of the impact of U.S. tax reform a year ago. Profit from oil and gas exploration was $3.29 billion (2.52 billion pounds) compared with $5.29 billion a year earlier; refining profit fell to $256 million compared with $1.2 billion a year ago.
Shares were up 2.5 percent at $117.51, helping lift the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
(Reporting by Jennifer Hiller; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)