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Dallas’s J.R. Ewing has never been one who’s easily impressed by the business acumen of others. But even that fictional oil tycoon would likely tip his 10-gallon hat to this refiner’s recent financial performance.
In its first full year of operation after the July 2011 merger of Holly Corporation and Frontier Oil, Dallas-based HollyFrontier’s profits surged from $1 billion to $1.7 billion in 2012. A glut of crude oil in Cushing, OK, benefited refiners in the U.S. midcontinent by driving down the cost of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil, relative to North Sea Brent crude.
But the honeymoon may be over for HollyFrontier. New rail and pipeline projects have gradually been coming online, facilitating the transportation of some of the crude to Gulf Coast refiners. WTI’s price has gone up as a result, and that’s unwelcome news for HollyFrontier. Second quarter profits plunged 48%. --S.G.