Exxon posts a surprise 53pc rise in profits

 
City A.M. Reporter
EXXON Mobil reported a better-than-expected 53 per cent increase in quarterly profit yesterday, helped by a lower tax rate and a surge in natural gas production in the US and Qatar.

The oil company’s results and the spike in crude oil price past $100 a barrel helped push Exxon shares to their highest in two years in US trading, in turn propelling the Dow index up.

Exxon, based in Texas, reported a fourth-quarter profit of $9.25bn (£5.78bn), or $1.85 per share, compared with $6.05bn or $1.27 per share in the same quarter a year earlier.

Oil demand rose last year and the US government expects another 1.5 per cent gain this year.

“The global economy appears to be stabilising with signs of modest growth in the United States and Europe and continued strong growth in the developing world, mainly in the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions,” David Rosenthal, Exxon’s head of investor relations, told analysts on a conference call.

Exxon’s exploration and production results were also lifted by higher oil prices, which climbed 12 per cent from a year earlier to average around $85 per barrel in the fourth quarter.

Exxon said its fourth-quarter tax rate was about 43 per cent, down from 45 per cent in the third quarter due to changes in where taxes were collected and on what products, the company said on its earnings call.

Exxon also saw higher profits in its chemicals and refining units.