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Exxon Mobil posts largest quarterly profit ever

/ Source: The Associated Press

High prices for oil and natural gas propelled Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC to their best quarterly results ever on Thursday, with Exxon becoming the first U.S. company ever to ring up quarterly sales of $100 billion.

To put Exxon’s performance into perspective, its third quarter revenue was greater than the annual gross domestic product of some of the largest oil producing nations, including the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. The world’s largest publicly traded oil company also set a U.S. profit record with net income of almost $10 billion, according to Standard & Poor’s equity market analyst Howard Silverblatt.

Both Exxon and Shell said their performances were buoyed by higher crude-oil and natural-gas prices, even as output suffered due to a busy hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico.

Exxon’s net income ballooned 75 percent to $9.92 billion, compared with $5.68 billion a year ago. The previous oil-industry earnings record was Exxon’s 2004 fourth-quarter profit of $8.42 billion. Revenue grew to $100.72 billion from $76.38 billion in the prior-year period.

At Shell, third-quarter net income attributable to shareholders grew 68 percent to $9.03 billion, compared with $5.37 billion a year earlier. Including income attributable to minority interests, profit rose 67 percent to $9.39 billion at the Anglo-Dutch company. Revenue rose 8 percent to $76.44 billion, in spite of an 11 percent decline in oil and natural gas output.

“We are capturing the benefits of high oil and gas prices and refining margins,” Shell Chief Financial Officer Peter Voser said, referring to the profit margin on each barrel of crude that is refined into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Excluding certain items, Exxon’s profit was $8.3 billion, or $1.32 per share, or slightly below the $1.38 per share expected by analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

Shell said adjusted earnings on a current cost of supplies basis — a measurement that strips out the fluctuating value of the company’s oil and gas inventories — was $7.37 billion, sharply higher than analysts’ forecasts.

Exxon said the hurricanes slashed U.S. production volumes by 5 percent from a year ago, while global daily production slipped to 2.45 million barrels of oil equivalent from 2.51 million barrels.