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    Valero Goes Platinum

    Refiner lands near top of Forbes' list of high performers.

    SAN ANTONIO -- Rising energy prices helped boost San Antonio-based oil refiner Valero Energy Corp. to the third spot on Forbes Platinum 400, a list of America's best big companies that outperformed the S&P 500 over the past 12 months, according to a report in the San Antonio Business Journal.

    Valero, the largest refiner in North America, with a combined throughput capacity, including crude and other feedstocks, of 3.3 million barrels per day, saw its shares increase by 104 percent during the year.

    The company's growth was bested only by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK), which makes flash-memory cards for digital cameras and music players; and Dallas-based oil refiner Holly Corp. (NYSE: HOC).

    While energy prices may fall further from last summer's peak, analysts are predicting that Valero will earn $7.45 per share in 2006, vs. expected earnings of $6.73 -- split adjusted -- for 2005.

    From Nov. 30, 2004, to Nov. 29, 2005, the Platinum 400 from 2005 showed an average price gain of 15 percent, compared with an increase of 7 percent for the S&P 500.

    This marks the sixth consecutive time a Platinum 400 list fared better than the market.

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