On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) fought to extend its record run from yesterday into a second straight day. In the end, though, the Dow ended up falling short, with the average closing down 22 points. Still, earnings will continue to have an impact on the Dow and the broader market, and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) will get its turn to report earnings Friday morning. Investors will be anxious to see whether the oil giant can outpace ExxonMobil's (NYSE:XOM) solid quarter, as well as dispel fears that Chevron raised in its earnings warning early last month.
Chevron will report its results before the market opens tomorrow, with the initial press release expected at around 8:30 a.m. EDT based on when it became available in previous quarters. The company will then follow up with a conference call scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. EDT, and comments there might well move the Dow Jones Industrials on a moment-to-moment basis.
Chevron has already reined in investor expectations about its first-quarter results, with its preliminary results indicating that earnings would fall sequentially from fourth-quarter levels due, in part, to weather effects. Even though the company has worked hard to boost production, Chevron said that it would also see drops in oil and gas production, as well.
But investors could draw some further clues about how Chevron will perform by looking at ExxonMobil's earnings report earlier today. Overall, earnings fell by about 4%, but because of Exxon's extensive share buybacks, earnings per share fell by only 1%. Downstream refining and chemical operations were, once again, a major culprit, as earnings from that segment plunged by 47% as weaker refining margins weighed on results. By contrast, upstream production profits were strong, with rising natural gas prices leading to an 11% gain in earnings from that segment.
Yet, production volume continued to hit ExxonMobil. Oil-equivalent production fell 5.6%, although about half of that reduction came as a result of the expiration of an onshore concession in Abu Dhabi that Exxon had for 75 years. Although capital and exploration expenditures fell 28%, the decrease was largely due to a major acquisition in the year-ago quarter, suggesting that Exxon understands the need to keep spending in order to find new sources of future production.
With Exxon's news, Chevron shareholders can expect the same factors to affects its earnings, with downstream refining likely taking a hit. That'll make it all the more important for Chevron to make the most of its production and, hopefully, higher prices will drive earnings upward, as well.
Chevron's share price is among the Dow's highest, giving the energy company even more influence in the Dow Jones Industrials than ExxonMobil has. In order for energy to lead the stock market higher, Chevron will need to convince investors that it has the ability to follow through on its ambitious long-term growth goals. If it can, then Chevron could help the Dow keep setting new all-time records in the near future.
Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Chevron. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.