SAN RAMON -- Chevron said its profits slumped during the fourth quarter and offered a disappointing prediction for worldwide production this year, a double-whammy that prompted investors to jettison the energy giant's shares on Friday.

During its fourth quarter that ended December 31st, Chevron's profits were $4.9 billion, down 31.9 percent from $7.2 billion in the year-ago quarter. Per-share profits of $2.57 a share were in line with Wall Street's expectations, but revenue fell short of predictions by analysts.

San Ramon-based Chevron's shares plunged 4.1 percent on the news to close at $111.63.

"The reason the stock was down today was not the quarterly results themselves, but Chevron's guidance for 2014 when it comes to production," said Pavel Molchanov, an energy analyst at investment firm Raymond James.

Chevron expects production during 2014 will be 2.61 million barrels of oil a day, which would be up 0.5 percent from the company's production in 2013. Analysts expected Chevron to forecast that its production this year would increase by about 2 percent to 4 percent, Molchanov said.

"All the major oil companies face challenges to increase production," said Brian Youngberg, an analyst with investment firm Edward Jones. "It's a struggle for everyone."

The latest quarterly results follow third-quarter results that also disappointed investors.

"That's two mediocre quarters in a row after a time period in which Chevron was firing on all cylinders," Youngberg said.

Refinery operations, primarily because of the return to full production of the company's refinery in Richmond following a fire, improved. During the October-December quarter, crude oil processed by Chevron's refineries increased 24 percent, refined product sales rose 6 percent and branded gasoline sales increased 1 percent.

Chevron pointed out that it's making progress on several fronts to bring major production projects online. The largest are liquefied natural gas complexes that Chevron is developing in Western Australia.

"We made significant progress on our LNG projects in Australia during the past year, with Gorgon almost 75 percent complete and Wheatstone successfully reaching important construction and LNG marketing milestones," Chevron CEO John Watson said in a prepared release. "Significant progress was also made at two important Gulf of Mexico deepwater projects, Jack/St. Malo and Big Foot."

The Gulf of Mexico projects, along with an LNG project in Angola, are expected to begin production this year. The Gorgon project should begin production in 2015, and Wheatstone should come on line in 2017.

"It is in 2015 that things get much more interesting for Chevron," Molchanov said. "Angola and the Gulf of Mexico projects will be on line for a full year and Gorgon will start production."

Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167. Follow him at Twitter.com/georgeavalos.