* Cuts 2009 capex view to $275 mln
* Says received EPA waiver for Tulsa refinery
* Gross refinery margins up 55 pct * Q1 EPS $0.44 vs $0.17 year-ago
* Shares up as much as 22 percent (Recasts; adds conf call details, analysts’ comments, updates share movement)
By Shradhha Sharma
BANGALORE, May 7 (Reuters) - Holly Corp’s HOC.N quarterly profit more than doubled, boosted by a 55 percent jump in refinery gross margins, but the oil refiner lowered its capital expenditure forecast for 2009.
“Excluding the impact of capital expenditures associated with the Tulsa refinery acquisition, we expect our capital expenditures to total approximately $275 million in 2009,” the company said on a conference call with analysts. [ID:nWNAB5680]
In April, Holly and its subsidiary agreed to buy Sunoco Inc’s (SUN.N) 85,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Tulsa refinery for $65 million. [ID:nBNG164187]
The Dallas-based company had earlier projected capital expenditure of about $350 million for 2009. It spent about $418 million in 2008.
“It’s been a tendency for these companies during the last few quarters to lower capex because they are concerned about the (economic) environment,” Argus Research analyst Phil Weiss said by phone.
Holly had forecast an even lower capex budget of $125 million for 2010, Weiss added.
U.S. refiners have been hit hard by falling demand for gasoline and diesel in a weakened economy. The demand for gasoline in the United States, the world’s top consumer of oil, fell last year for the first time since 1991 and the government does not see energy consumption growing again till 2010.
“Given the inventory situation and excess capacity, refiners would need to continue to show discipline and manage their utilization and production levels to meet demand,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Jim Byrne said by phone.
Holly scaled back its first-quarter operating costs and expenses by 59 percent to $610.9 million.
Declining oil prices CLc1 have helped oil refiners increase refining margins — the difference between the cost of crude oil and wholesale price of petroleum products like gasoline.
Holly’s refinery gross margins rose to $11.93 per produced barrel, compared with $7.72 per produced barrel a year earlier.
Weiss said he expects the company to do much better in 2009 than 2008, primarily because of the extra capacity brought online through the Tulsa refinery acquisition, which would expand Holly’s ability to refine lower quality crude.
For the quarter, the company reported net income attributable to stockholders of $21.9 million, or 44 cents a share, up from $8.6 million, or 17 cents a share, a year earlier.
However, sales and other revenue more than halved to $650.8 million, hurt by a 46 percent decline in prices of produced refined products sold.
These gains were partially offset by a 22 percent drop in refinery production levels, owing to production downtime at the company’s Navajo refinery.
Shares of Holly rose as much as 22 percent to touch $31.63, but later shed all their gains and were trading down 28 cents at $25.54 Wednesday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.
For the alerts, double-click [ID:nWNAB5216] (Editing by Anne Pallivathuckal, Ratul Ray Chaudhuri)