Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Three Majors Report Better-Than-Expected First-Quarter Results

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Three Majors Report Better-Than-Expected First-Quarter Results

Article excerpt

Three of the nation's biggest oil companies reported better-than- expected first-quarter earnings on Tuesday, boosted by the surge in crude oil prices over the last year.

Exxon Mobil, Texaco and Conoco's profits all topped Wall Street analysts' estimates for the quarter.

Oil companies benefited from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' decision last year to cut oil production. That sent crude oil prices surging over the last year, climbing to more than $34 a barrel in March 2000 on the New York Mercantile Exchange - - the highest level since the Gulf War.

Prices, however, have weakened somewhat since OPEC announced last month that it would undo the production cuts, but still remain well above year-ago levels, trading around $26 a barrel.

Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, earned $3.35 billion, or 95 cents a share, from $1.61 billion, or 46 cents, a year ago.

Revenue for the Irving, Texas-based company rose 42 percent, to $55.08 billion from $48.68 billion.

Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial were projecting 90 cents per share.

This quarter marked the first time since the $85 billion merger in November of Exxon and Mobil that the company issued a full earnings report with combined operations.

Including merger-related gains of $130 million, the company said it earned $3.48 billion, or 99 cents, up 135 percent from the combined year-ago earnings of Exxon and Mobil.

Exxon Mobil chairman Lee Raymond said exploration and production results benefited from the rise in crude oil prices, which were trading at about $15 a year ago.

The same trend, however, depressed Exxon Mobil's refining and marketing earnings because the company couldn't raise product prices in line with rising crude oil prices, he said.

Exxon Mobil also said it realized a net after-tax gain of $455 million from asset sales required by regulators as a condition of approving the merger of the two oil companies. …

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