Exxon Mobil Posts Record $14.8 Billion Profit, Shell Tops Estimates

By Jennifer Yousfi
Managing Editor
Money Morning

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) set a U.S. profit record today (Thursday) when it announced its third quarter profit topped $14.8 billion on record-high oil prices.

Exxon Mobil, the largest U.S. oil company, earned $14.8 billion, or $2.86 per share, a 58% increase from the $9.41 billion, or $1.70 per share it earned in the third quarter of 2007. Exxon Mobil’s record-setting profit was enough to beat analyst expectations of $2.38 a share, according FactSet Research data.  

Exxon Mobil beat its own record for the largest quarterly profit for a U.S. company, which it had previously set in the second quarter of 2008 with a gain of $11.68 billion.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (ADR: RDS.A, RDS.B) also announced third quarter earnings today, beating Bloomberg’s average analyst estimates. Europe’s largest oil company saw a 22% increase in profit to $8.45 billion from $6.9 billion in the same period the year prior.

During the quarter, oil averaged $118 per barrel. But crude prices have since slipped nearly $80 from a record high of more than $147 per barrel in July, which means Exxon Mobil’s string of record-setting profits could end in the fourth quarter.

While profits will likely dip in the near-term, analysts remain bullish on the long-term prospects of oil majors.

The oil majors are coming all above expectations, which means they have resilient qualities,” Jason Kenney, an analyst at ING Wholesale Banking in Edinburgh, told Bloomberg News. “They show the benefit of being an integrated company, and they have the flexibility to weather the storm.”

High oil prices helped the oil majors to beat Wall Street expectations, despite production declines during the quarter. Exxon Mobil’s production dropped 8.2% during the quarter, while Shell’s output slumped 6.6%.

This is a good outcome but some investors will be disappointed by the sluggish production volumes,” Tony Shepard, an analyst at London-based broker Charles Stanley, told the International Herald Tribune, speaking of Shell’s results. “Given the fall in the oil price, an issue for all oil and gas companies is current levels of capital expenditure.”

Exxon Mobil reaffirmed its capital spending budget of $25 million over the next five years, regardless of the subsequent trend of oil prices. However, Shell announced it would delay moving forward with developing its Athabasca oil-sands project in Alberta, Canada due to increased costs.

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