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    Sunoco Exceeds Expectations

    Higher gasoline prices fuel profit, earnings spike.

    PHILADELPHIA

    Sunoco Inc. said higher retail gasoline profits contributed to third-quarter earnings of $92 million beating analysts' expectations for the period.

    The profits compared with a net loss of $25 million in the third quarter of 2000, when the company reported costs including a $134 million after-tax charge to write down lubricants assets being held for sale to their estimated values, the Associated Press reported.

    Sunoco said operating income excluding special items was $87 million for the period, compared with $104 million, or $1.20 a share, for the third quarter of 2000. Revenues for July through September were $3.46 billion, down from $3.74 billion in the year-earlier quarter, the company said.

    The company now has 4,100 gas station and convenience store sites. Sunoco also has 730,000 barrels per day of refining capacity, as well as interests in over 10,000 miles of pipeline and 35 product terminals.

    John G. Drosdick, chairman and CEO of the Philadelphia-based oil company, said Sunoco's two largest business units, Northeast Refining and Chemicals, struggled during the quarter, with lower-than-average refining profit margins and a "bottom-of-the-cycle" market resulting in a $6 million loss for the chemicals unit.

    Sunoco's Northeast Marketing unit earned a record $41 million, however, more than double the $18 million it earned a year earlier. Sunoco attributed that to higher retail gasoline margins and a more than 10 percent increase in sales volume from acquisitions made in the past year.

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