Friday, April 28, 2006

Exxon Mobil 1Q Profit Up 7 Pct. to $8.4B on Yahoo! News

Exxon Mobil 1Q Profit Up 7 Pct. to $8.4B on Yahoo! News
By STEVE QUINN, AP Business Writer;_ylt=AnZV7lzBt16sat8wYdLLZk8b.3QA;_ylu=X3oDMTA2ZGZwam4yBHNlYwNmYw--

Exxon Mobil Corp. posted the fifth-highest quarterly profit for any public company in history on Thursday, and with oil prices above $70 a barrel it could go down as the company's weakest quarter for the year.

Exxon Mobil's first-quarter was lower than its record fourth-quarter, when the world's largest oil company reported the highest profits ever for any publicly traded company.

And the earnings, which rose 7 percent to more than $8 billion, still fell short of analysts' estimates.

But in what is sure to spur the growing furor over outsized energy industry earnings, Exxon Mobil's massive profits may only increase in 2006 as it benefits from rising crude-oil prices and production, analysts say.

The earnings report comes amid consumer outcry in the U.S. about soaring gasoline prices, which average $2.91 a gallon nationwide, or 68 cents higher than a year ago.

It also lands as Washington lawmakers are looking to appease consumers with various proposals to make big oil companies pay more taxes or provide consumers with some other relief.

He said Exxon Mobil was investing a growing portion of its profits in new oil and gas production, and that the company is sympathetic to the added energy-price burden on consumers.

Still, he said consumers and members of Congress need to "take a deep pause and a deep breath" because market forces will eventually bring supply and demand back into balance.

Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst for Standard & Poor's, said the latest profit figure still places Exxon fifth historically among quarterly earnings.

Both companies benefited from higher crude oil prices, which are hovering above $70 a barrel on concerns about supply disruptions, strong global demand for crude, limited spare production capacity and geopolitical uncertainty.

Despite the outcry in Washington about energy industry profits, the sector does not have the strongest profit margins among S&P 500 companies.

Pride of place for that goes to the healthcare industry, which is expected to have a first-quarter profit margin of 18.1 percent, according to S&P estimates, versus 10.4 percent for oil companies.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer

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