DALLAS — Oil industry behemoth Exxon Mobil’s earnings rose to $10.49 billion in the third quarter, the second-largest quarterly profit ever recorded by a publicly traded U.S. company. Its share price briefly rose to a 52-week high.
The report Thursday comes as high crude prices this year have fueled record profits in the oil industry, triggering an outcry from consumers who were being asked to pay about $3 a gallon for gasoline in early August.
The largest quarterly profit ever was Exxon Mobil Corp.’s $10.71 billion profit in the fourth quarter of 2005.
The company may beat that next quarter, said Howard Silverblatt Standard & Poor’s Senior Index Analyst. “Then in all likelihood they will be at that $40 billion mark for the year.”
That would put the company on track for the highest annual profit ever by a U.S. company. Exxon Mobil holds that record with a 2005 profit of $36.1 billion.
Although crude oil prices began to decline toward the end of the third quarter, the average market price for crude held at around $70 a barrel in the period after peaking above $78 per barrel in July. Oil futures prices have recently traded near $61 a barrel, and gasoline prices have dropped to an average of about $2.43 a gallon.
Exxon Mobil, the world’s biggest publicly traded oil company, said its net income amounted to $1.77 per share for the July-September period, up from $9.92 billion, or $1.58 per share, a year ago.
The results surpassed the expectations of Wall Street analysts. On average, analysts expected the company to earn $1.59 per share in the quarter.
Revenue fell to $99.59 billion from $100.72 billion from a year ago, which saw then-record oil prices because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Still, Exxon’s revenue for the three-month period was greater than the annual gross domestic product of some major oil producing nations, including the United Arab Emirates ($98.1 billion) and Kuwait ($52.76 billion), according to statistics maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency.
More than two-thirds of Exxon Mobil’s profits come from oil and natural-gas production outside the U.S., with rising production in Africa, the Middle East and Russia consistently offsetting declining output in the United States, Canada and Europe.
Exxon Mobil said it pumped 7 percent more oil and natural gas than it did during the same quarter a year earlier. At the beginning of the year, some analysts had forecast a 5 percent growth.
Another major international oil company, Royal Dutch Shell PLC said its third-quarter profit fell 34 percent to $5.94 billion even as revenues rose 10 percent to $84.3 billion. But the Anglo-Dutch company’s operating profit rose as higher oil prices outweighed worsening refining margins.
Earlier this week, ConocoPhillips reported its profit rose 2 percent to $3.88 billion in the third quarter while another major oil company, BP PLC, said its earnings fell 3.6 percent to $6.23 billion.
A fifth major oil company, Chevron Corp., is expected to report its results Friday.
High oil prices helped Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil realize earnings from its oil and gas drilling activities of $6.49 billion, up 13 percent from the prior year. The company also saw stronger earnings from its refining operations and gas stations, and profits at its chemicals segment more than doubled.
The company said its average sale price for crude oil in the U.S. during the quarter was $62.07 a barrel, compared to $56.97 a year earlier. Internationally, however, Exxon said the average sale price for oil was $65.64 compared to $58.24 a year ago. Natural gas sales in the U.S. were slightly lower in the U.S. but higher around the world.
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