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ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) Earnings Miss – But Investors Should Stay Put

ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) earnings came up short this morning. The oil giant missed analysts' expectations by about 9 cents.

ExxonMobil Stock Price History

Steve Schaefer at Forbes runs down the numbers:

"The energy giant recorded earnings of $9.5 billion, or $2.00 per share. Those figures were down 11% and 7%, respectively, from the first quarter of 2011, and earnings per share were below the $2.09 analyst consensus. Revenue of $124.1 billion was up 8.8% from a year ago, but just shy of the $124.8 billion expected.

Earnings in Exxon's upstream, or exploration and production, fell 10.1% from a year ago, to $7.8 billion, while downstream earning, which include refining, were up 44% from the prior year to $1.6 billion, thanks largely to gains from asset sales and improvements in volume and mix."

This earnings miss is the least of Exxon's short-term worries as we head into the summer months and the election heats up. There are a lot of problems for the company to overcome all at once – but it shouldn't send ExxonMobil investors headed for the exits.

A Look at ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) Earnings

There are a few things to look at in Exxon's numbers.

First, $124.1 billion in revenue is an immense amount of money.

If you haven't read anything about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official saying that the agency "crucifies" energy companies, then just wait for the talking points to start on "record profits."

Remember, we live in a world now where record profits are "evil." It's just a matter of time before blame for rising gasoline prices is placed on the major oil companies and their near-record "profits."

Unfortunately, political pundits don't understand the global oil markets and what is on the horizon.

Second, the 10.1% drop in upstream services is an obvious result of natural gas prices plummeting over the last year. Natural gas prices fell to a 10-year low last week, and Exxon is now the largest natural gas producer in the United States.

Keep in mind, the company was practically non-existent in the gas trade four years ago.

We've discussed at length that natural gas is going to become the energy source of choice moving forward around the world. Overtime, natural gas prices will appreciate, and there's an obvious timeline for this global shift.

We still might not be at the pricing bottom yet, but over the long term, it's impossible to ignore the obvious opportunities moving forward – great news for ExxonMobil's natural gas position.

In early afternoon trading Thursday, shares of Exxon had slipped nearly 2% to $85.26.

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