It's long been my opinion that the quarterly deluge of earnings releases from big and small companies alike was a bit excessive. Why not permit a slightly longer amount of time to pass -- for instance, the biannual approach that's taken in many overseas locations -- before we roll out yet another set of results?

So it seems especially silly for companies, with Chevron (NYSE:CVX) being the most recent example, to provide us with a quick peek-a-boo at upcoming quarterly results. By some measures, companies that give us an incomplete glimpse at their numbers, before filling in the details a couple of weeks later, are doubling normal reporting frequency to eight times annually.

Chevron will provide a detailed report of its quarterly financial and operating results on the last day of this month. That'll be a day behind ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), and several days after the likes of Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), and BP (NYSE:BP).

But because the company's preliminary release was ginned out quickly after the close of the quarter, there were a lot of metrics that weren't or couldn't be included. What we do know is that U.S. upstream production fell roughly 1% year over year in the first two months of the quarter. And we learned that the hurricanes that sauntered across the Gulf of Mexico probably cost it about 150,000 barrels a day in September. Beyond that, international production was affected negatively in the first two-thirds of the quarter to the tune of about 6% by planned maintenance, primarily at the giant Tengiz Field in Kazakhstan.

The downstream appears to have been nursed back to semblance of health, following the loss it incurred in the second quarter. On that basis, the company benefited from a $39 slide in crude prices during the quarter. That trend benefited refinery margins and profitability, as did a reduction in facilities downtime.

So there you have it: a glimpse at Chevron's numbers, based upon incomplete quarterly results -- much like a quick taste of a new flavor in an ice cream shop. The trends were largely predictable by anyone with an eye cocked on the group.

In the final analysis, however, the key to the attractiveness of energy share prices will depend upon a cessation of the slide in commodities prices. Once that occurs, the group will provide a number of superb opportunities for Fools with a taste for energy -- and profits.

Chevron has been accorded four stars by Motley Fool CAPS players. Why not add your opinion?

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does, however, welcome your questions or comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.