April 29, 2010 / 1:30 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 2-Imperial Oil profit surges, but short of estimates

* Q1 EPS C$0.56 vs average estimate C$0.63

* Revenue up 32 pct at C$6.17 bln

* Increases quarterly dividend by 10 percent

(Adds dividend increase in final paragraph)

SAN FRANCISCO, April 28 (Reuters) - Imperial Oil Ltd’s (IMO.TO) quarterly profit rose 65 percent, short of analysts’ estimates, as oil prices surged but refining weighed it down, Canada’s No. 2 oil exploration and refining company said on Wednesday.

Imperial, 69.6 percent owned by Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), earned C$476 million, or 56 Canadian cents per share, up from C$289 million, or 33 Canadian cents per share, in the first quarter of 2009.

Analysts had expected Imperial to earn 63 Canadian cents per share, according to the average on Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Imperial’s revenue rose 32 percent to C$6.17 billion.

Oil prices rose 86 percent from recessionary lows in the first quarter of 2009 to average $78.37 per barrel. But those gains were offset by continuing weakness in natural gas prices, a poor market for refined products and a rising Canadian dollar.

Imperial, known for extensive heavy oil and oil sands operations, as well as its national chain of Esso service stations, said its refining division was hampered by ongoing challenges in the North American economies that weighed on demand and profit margins.

The company’s total net crude and natural gas liquids production fell 17 percent to 200,000 barrels per day in the first quarter, while net natural gas output was down 10 percent to 237 million cubic feet per day.

Imperial also raised its quarterly dividend to 11 Canadian cents per share from 10 Canadian cents. The increased dividend is payable on July 1 to shareholders of record at the close of business on June 3.

Reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson in Toronto; Editing by Andre Grenon, Phil Berlowitz

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