Archive for October, 2010

ExxonMobil profit soars 55 percent in third quarter

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 | Finance News

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NEW YORK (AFP) – ExxonMobil said Thursday its profit soared 55 percent in the third quarter, driven in part by higher energy prices and rising oil production in Qatar.

The US energy giant reported net earnings of 7.35 billion dollars, a better- than-expected advance from the 4.73 billion dollars posted in the 2009 third quarter.

Earnings per share of 1.44 dollars in the July-September period topped the consensus forecast of 1.39 dollars.

Revenue surged 16 percent to 95.29 billion dollars.

ExxonMobil, the world's largest non-state oil company, said the strong performance was due to higher crude oil and natural gas prices, improved refining margins, and solid chemical results.

"Despite continuing economic uncertainty, we had strong quarterly results and continued to advance our robust investment opportunities," ExxonMobil chairman Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

The Irving, Texas-based company said it had returned more than five billion dollars to shareholders in the third quarter, through dividends and share purchases.

The company announced Tuesday it would pay a fourth-quarter dividend of 44 cents, the same amount paid in the third quarter.

Oil and gas production rose 20 percent from the third quarter of 2009, driven in part by increased production from projects in Qatar.

Capital and exploration spending increased 35 percent, to 8.8 billion dollars.

ExxonMobil reported nine-month earnings, excluding special items, were 21.21 billion dollars, a 59 percent increase from the same period in 2009.

In 2009 it posted the largest profit of any publicly listed company worldwide: 40.6 billion dollars.

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Exxon quarterly profit up 55 pct, tops Street

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 | Finance News

HOUSTON (Reuters) – 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 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)

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Instant View: Reaction to jobless claims data

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 | Finance News

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, touching their lowest level in three months, a government report showed on Thursday.

KEY POINTS: * Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 434,000, the lowest since the week ended July 10, the Labor Department said, and the second straight drop. * Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast claims edging up to 453,000 from the previously reported 452,000. The government revised the prior week's figure up to 455,000. * A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual in the state data. The economy's painfully slow recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression has left the labor market subdued and the unemployment rate at 9.6 percent.

COMMENTS:

DAVID ADER, HEAD OF GOVERNMENT BOND STRATEGY, CRT CAPITAL GROUP, STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT:

"This was a decent drop but with the seasonal adjustment factor at hand the drop overstates things. And even with the arcanity factor, the market is holding a bid though off from levels just before the report. Bear in mind that 434,000 is not a strong number in itself, say close to 100,000 private NFP gains if you push things, but again Labor cites the special adjustment factor so the magnitude of the drop is somewhat artificial."

STEVE GOLDMAN, MARKET STRATEGIST, WEEDEN & CO., GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT:

"A couple of months ago we started seeing improvement in numerous gauges of employment, and we're slowly getting that confirmation from data that's been coming out. You tend to use moving averages on this, not just one week, but it was better than expected."

WAYNE KAUFMAN, CHIEF MARKET ANALYST, JOHN THOMAS FINANCIAL, NEW YORK:

"Wow. It's obviously nice to see, must be lowest in quite a while, but I won't get too excited about one week, because one week does not a trend make. But it's nice to see, especially since we've seen some negative stuff lately, including yesterday's durable goods number. Maybe we can get back on track of having more positive numbers, but I'm not going to get too excited.

"Everything is on the election and any Fed commentary next week about QE, those are the only issues the market cares about right now."

MARKET REACTION: STOCKS: U.S. stock index futures add to gains after the initial claims data. BONDS: U.S. Treasury debt prices trimmed gains. DOLLAR: U.S. dollar steady at lower levels versus the euro and yen

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