Poor refining margins drive profit down at Total

PARIS (AP) — French oil company Total said Thursday that net income fell 10 percent in the July-to-September period, partially due to poor refining margins amid a sluggish European economy.

The company said that net profit was 2.8 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in the quarter, the first in its fiscal year. Revenue was 46.7 billion euros, a drop of 6 percent. Still, both figures were above consensus expectations of analysts surveyed by FactSet.

While Brent crude oil prices were fairly stable in the quarter, refining margins — the profit from converting oil into useable fuel — plummeted 79 percent, as a poor economy cut into energy demands. The company said its profit was also hit by higher exploration costs as part of a more active drilling program.

Investors were disappointed. In early trading on the Paris bourse, Total's share dropped 1 percent to 44.78 euros.

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