Exxon’s Profit Rises 55%, Helped by Higher Oil Prices


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HOUSTON (Reuters) — The Exxon Mobil Corporation, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, said Thursday that its quarterly profit rose 55 percent, surpassing expectations, as higher crude prices lifted results in its exploration business.

Third-quarter earnings for oil companies have been helped by a rebound in oil and natural gas prices. Slow improvement in the global economy has also lifted demand for fuels like diesel and gasoline, helping refining businesses.

Crude oil prices have climbed 13 percent over the last year while benchmark gas in New York trading rose 23 percent, to average $4.23 a million British thermal units.

“Production, mostly from natural gas, looks like the reason for the slightly better-than-expected performance,” Philip Weiss, oil analyst at Argus Research, said, noting that Exxon’s international refining business also did well.

The company, based in Irving, Tex., said its oil and gas output rose 20 percent from a year ago, to a combined output of 4.45 million barrels of oil equivalent a day. Exxon’s large liquefied natural gas projects in Qatar and its acquisition of XTO Energy, which was announced in December, helped push production higher.

Exxon’s $27 billion acquisition of XTO has enhanced its natural gas portfolio, but the purchase has not been well received by some investors, who point to current depressed prices for the fuel. The oil giant said it made the deal because it expected natural gas demand to rise over the long-term, driven by power demand in countries like China and India.

Exxon said its third-quarter profit was $7.35 billion, or $1.44 a share, compared with $4.73 billion, or 98 cents a share, in the third quarter a year ago. Revenue rose 15.8 percent in the quarter, to $95.3 billion.

Wall Street analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.39 a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Profit in Exxon’s exploration and production unit rose 36 percent, to $5.47 billion, while its refining unit had a profit of $1.16 billion, up sharply from $325 million from a year ago.

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