Exxon quarterly profit up 55 pct, tops Street

By Anna Driver

HOUSTON (BestGrowthStock) – Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: ), the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, said on Thursday its quarterly profit rose 55 percent, topping expectations, as higher crude prices and improved refining margins boosted results.

Third-quarter earnings for oil companies have been helped by a rebound in oil and natural gas prices. Slow improvement in the global economy has also lifted demand for fuels like diesel and gasoline, helping refining businesses.

Compared with a year-earlier, U.S. crude oil prices climbed 13 percent while benchmark gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 23 percent to average $4.23 per million British thermal units.

“Production, mostly from natural gas, looks like the reason for the slightly better-than-expected performance,” Phil Weiss, oil analyst at Argus Research, said, noting that the company’s international refining business also did well.

The Irving, Texas-based company said its oil and gas output rose 20 percent from a year-ago to 4.45 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. Gains were fueled by Exxon’s massive liquefied natural gas projects in Qatar and its June acquisition of U.S. oil and gas company XTO Energy.

Exxon’s $27 billion acquisition of XTO has boosted its natural gas portfolio, but the purchase has not been well received by some investors eyeing current depressed prices for the fuel.

The oil giant has said the deal was made because it expects natural gas demand to rise over the long-term, fueled by power demand in countries like China and India.

Exxon said its third-quarter profit (Read more your timing to make a profit.) was $7.35 billion, or $1.44 per share, compared with $4.73 billion, or 98 cents per share, in the year-ago third quarter.

Wall Street analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.39 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Profit in Exxon’s exploration and production unit rose 36 percent to $5.47 billion, while its refining unit had a profit of $1.16 billion, up sharply from $325 million from a year ago.

Shares of Exxon rose to $66.40 in premarket trading. On Wednesday, the stock closed at $65.67 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Anna Driver in Houston, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

Exxon quarterly profit up 55 pct, tops Street