(The Canadian Press) Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM, Stock Forum) managed to increase its earnings slightly in the first quarter thanks to surging profits from its chemical business and lower taxes.
But Exxon is synonymous with Big Oil _ and more recently natural gas __ not chemicals. And that part of its business slumped in the first three months as production and revenue dropped.
``This company has been very growth-challenged for some time,'' said Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones. ``If they can get to the point they could keep (production) flat investors would look very positively at that.''
Shares of Exxon, the biggest energy company in the U.S., fell 0.87%, to $88.65, even though its results were better than Wall Street expected, leaving the company with a market cap of $396 billion, based on 4.5 billion shares outstanding. The 52-week range is $93.67 and $77.13.
Finding and producing enough oil and gas to replace the oil and gas sold every year is a difficult task for all of the major oil companies. That's because their production is already high, while the number of untapped oil resources is limited. Also, oil and gas companies have to be careful about investing in long-term projects because if oil and gas prices fall, those projects can quickly become money-losers.
Exxon said Thursday in a press release that its net income for the first quarter increased 0.5 per cent while revenue fell 12 per cent.
The company, based in Irving, Tex. reported net income of $9.5 billion, or $2.12 per share. Analysts expected earnings of $2.05 per share, according to FactSet. During last year's quarter, Exxon earned $9.45 billion, or $2 per share.
Revenue dropped to $108.8 billion from $124.1 billion.