Chemicals fuel jump in profit as oil output falls at Exxon Mobil

City A.M. Reporter
EXXON Mobil yesterday said its quarterly profit edged up, helped by higher earnings in its chemicals business, but that oil and gas production fell.

Earnings per share topped Wall Street expectations but the gains largely came after a big stock buyback that reduced the number of outstanding shares by five per cent.

“Their reliance on share buybacks mutes the earnings per share beat,” said Brian Youngberg, energy company analyst at Edward Jones.

“I’d rather see them give the cash to shareholders in the form of a dividend increase.”

First-quarter profit for the world’s largest publicly traded oil company totalled $9.5bn, against $9.45bn a year earlier.

Total oil and natural gas production declined 3.5 per cent to 4.395m barrels oil equivalent per day from the same quarter a year ago.

Profit in Exxon’s exploration and production unit fell about 10 per cent to $7bn, but low natural gas prices in North American led to an 62 per cent increase in profit in its chemicals business.