How Higher Oil Prices Boosted Exxon Mobil Earnings

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Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) reported estimated first-quarter 2017 results before markets opened Friday. The integrated oil and gas giant posted quarterly diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.95 on revenues of $63.29 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.43 on revenues of $48.71 billion. First-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $0.84 on revenues of $64.78 billion.

Full-year profits more than doubled, from $1.81 billion in the year-ago quarter to $4.01 billion. In the upstream division, net profit totaled $2.27 billion, up sharply from $756 million in the year-ago quarter. Higher commodity prices, cost cutting and improved refining margins contributed to the increases.

Upstream earnings totaled $2.3 billion, compared with a loss of $76 million in the first quarter of 2016. Liquids volume fell 4% to 2.3 million barrels a day and natural gas volumes rose by 184 million cubic feet per day to 10.9 billion cubic feet. Improved commodity prices added $2.3 billion to upstream profit, while lower volumes and mixed sliced off $150 million. Cost cuts added $170 million to upstream earnings.

In the downstream division, earnings rose to $1.1 billion, up $210 million year over year. Refined product sales rose by 61,000 barrels a day to 5.4 million barrels.

Oil-equivalent production in the first quarter decreased by 174,000 barrels a day to 4.15 million barrels a day. U.S. production rose by 13,000 barrels a day to 513,000 barrels. U.S. natural gas production decreased by 149 million cubic feet per day year-over-year to 3.01 billion cubic feet. Worldwide natural gas production rose by 184 million cubic feet per day to 10.91 billion cubic feet.

Capital spending totaled $4.17 billion in the first quarter, compared with $5.13 billion in the first quarter of last year. U.S. upstream spending was cut by about 30%, from $1.08 billion to $704 million.

CEO and Chairman Darren Woods said:

Our results reflect an increase in commodity prices and highlight our continued focus on controlling costs and operating efficiently. We continue to make strategic acquisitions, advance key initiatives and fund long-term growth projects across the value chain.

The company did not provide guidance in its press release, but analysts expect second-quarter EPS of $0.91 on revenues of $68.46 billion, compared with $0.41 per share and $57.69 billion in the second quarter of 2016. For the full year, analysts are looking for EPS of $3.87 on revenues of $292.04 billion.

Exxon’s shares traded up about 1% just after Friday’s opening bell, at $82.10 in a 52-week range of $80.30 to $95.55. Analysts had a 12-month price target of $87.36 before this morning’s report.