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Valero Energy Corp estimates third-quarter earnings far short than expected

Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. independent oil refiner, will report third-quarter earnings far short of Wall Street estimates because the cost of refined products has not kept up with rapidly rising crude costs.

Earnings from continuing operations, excluding special items, are now expected to be $1.30 to $1.40 per share.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had been expecting earnings of $1.91 per share. Such forecasts typically exclude one-time items.

Valero said its estimate does not include a $91 million (64.33 million EUR) pretax gain related to a loan repayment by a foreign subsidiary, or a $94.5 million (66.8 million EUR) payment for a stock repurchase program completed in July. Including those items, third-quarter earnings will be $1.25 to $1.35 per share, Valero said.

The company said it also expects to report earnings from discontinued operations of approximately 75 cents per share related to the sale of its refinery in Lima, Ohio.

In addition to higher crude costs, Valero said earnings would be pinched because the prices of products like asphalt and lube oils didn't keep pace with the higher crude expenses.

The company will give a full report of third-quarter earnings on Nov. 6.

The profit warning based on lower refining margins by Valero, the largest refiner in North America, follows a similar warning by ConocoPhillips last week and a reminder from Chevron Corp. on Tuesday that it would report lower profits because of refinery margins.

After opening lower, Valero's stock closed up $2.06 at $74.25 Tuesday.

Doug Leggate, an analyst for Citigroup Global Markets Inc., said in a note to investors that although the market was likely to react negatively to Valero's unusual profit warning, a poor quarter should not be a major surprise and that it would not shave a significant amount off full-year earnings.

Leggate changed his rating on Valero to a "buy" Monday.

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