Exxon Mobil sets annual profit record

No. 1 oil company posts mark despite lower fourth-quarter income.


NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. posted the largest annual profit in U.S. history Thursday, even though fourth-quarter earnings fell on lower natural gas prices and shrinking gasoline margins.

For the year, Exxon Mobil earned $39.5 billion, up from its previous record $36.1 billion in 2005.

Net income in the fourth quarter slipped to $10.25 billion, or $1.76 a share, from $10.71 billion, or $1.71 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Exxon Mobil (Charts), the world's largest publicly traded company, earned $1.69 a share. The average earnings forecast of analysts polled by Reuters Estimates was $1.51 a share.

Revenue in the quarter fell 9.4 percent to $90.03 billion.

Earnings from exploration and production activities were $6.22 billion, down $818 million from a year earlier due to the natural gas price drop and decreased volumes driven by lower demand in Europe.

Earnings from refining and marketing operations totaled $1.86 billion, down $430 million due to lower margins.

Oil prices in the fourth quarter dropped from the record levels hit in July but were still robust, hovering around $60 a barrel - roughly in line with year-earlier levels.

Natural gas prices, on the other hand, were sharply lower than in 2005. According to Reuters data, the average U.S. natural gas price was about $6.61 per million British thermal unit in the fourth quarter, down from $12.77 a year earlier.

Since the end of the 2006 third quarter, Exxon Mobil shares are up 10.4 percent, outperforming the Chicago Board Options Exchange's oil index, which has risen 8.8 percent.

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.