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Chevron's Earnings Offer Glimpse of Potential

Thanks to higher commodity prices and increased production, Chevron (CVX) flipped to earnings of $1.5 billion during the second quarter from a loss of $1.5 billion last year. Earnings would have been higher were it not for a noncash $430 million impairment charge. The robust production growth during the quarter, 10% from last year, shows Chevron is beginning to reap the large-scale investment it's made over the past five years. Guidance of 4%-9% production growth for the full year is unchanged, as are our fair value estimate and moat rating.

We see this growth, combined with reduction in capital spending, as leading to an inflexion in free cash flow and...